Are You Willing to Give Even When It Hurts

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the forty-first verse of the twelfth chapter and continues through to the fourteenth verse of the thirteenth. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find Jesus still present within the temple that was present within the city of Jerusalem. What marks and what makes this particular passage of scripture so incredibly intriguing is the fact that while Jesus was still present within the temple which stood within the city of Jerusalem we find Him sitting over against the treasury. It was there sitting over against the treasury that we find Jesus observing those would come into the temple with their offerings and that which they would present and give unto the Lord. WHEN JESUS OBSERVES YOUR GIVING! WHEN JESUS TAKES NOTE OF YOUR GIVING! WHEN JESUS ENTERS INTO THE HOUSE TO VIEW YOUR GIVING! Earlier on during the week of Jesus’ week of passion we find Him entering into the temple once to observe and to look upon all that was taking place within the courts of the house of the Lord there in Jerusalem. If you journey back to the beginning of the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find that when Jesus entered into the city after His triumphal entry He entered into the temple of the Lord, and although scripture writes and records that He looked upon all things, He deliberately and intentionally chose to remain silent and to remain inactive. There is not a doubt in my mind that all that Jesus dealt with and confronted on His second visit to the the temple which stood in the city of Jerusalem was present within the temple on that first occasion when Jesus entered therein. It’s interesting and worth noting that although Jesus entered into the temple this first time and looked upon all things, He deliberately and intentionally chose to remain silent and to do absolutely nothing. Although He perhaps looked upon all that had taken place within the courts of the Lord, He chose to walk away and walk out of the house rather than dealing with and confronting that which was taking place in the midst of the courts of the Lord. It wouldn’t be until Jesus entered into the temple the second time that He would actually begin to confront and deal with that which was taking place within the house of the living God.

If you continue reading the words which are recorded in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by Mark you will find Jesus entering into the temple a second time—except this second time He did not and would not enter in as a bystander, spectator or observer. When Jesus entered into the temple this second time He would enter in as One who was a divine mission and divine directive. As Jesus entered into the temple this second time we find Jesus immediately taking action and holding nothing back from the courts of the Lord. Mark is the second gospel author to write about Jesus’ cleansing of the temple—an event which took place immediately after cursing the fig tree. After cursing that which did not bear and that which did not bring forth fruit we next find Jesus cleansing that which turned and transformed His Father’s house into a house of merchandise and a den of thieves. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that which takes place in the eleventh chapter of the gospel which was written by John Mark, for if we are going to understand that which takes place in the final verses of the twelfth chapter we need to have a working knowledge of the events which unfolded earlier on during this week of Jesus’ passion. Upon entering into the temple this second time Jesus would do that which was necessary in order that He might cleanse the house of his Father from the commerce and merchandise that was taking place therein. That which Jesus observed and looked upon when visiting the temple the first time would now be directly confronted and directly dealt with for Jesus would not and could not allow His Father’s house to remain a house of commerce and a house of merchandise. Jesus would not and could not enter into the temple of the living God and continue to allow the commerce and merchandise within the courts to continue. What’s more, is that Jesus would and could not allow the commercialization of worship and sacrifice to continue within the courts of the living God, and needed to do something to drive it out. Through zeal for the house which utterly and completely consumed Him, Jesus would directly confront and drive out the commercialization of worship and sacrifice that would take place within the courts of the living God, for He was unwilling to allow His Father’s house to remain a den of thieves.

I firmly believe that if we are going to understand the events which took place in the latter portion of the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by John Mark it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to the events that took place when Jesus entered into the temple the second time, for when Jesus entered into the Temple the second time during the week of His passion He decided to directly confront the commercialization of worship that was taking place within the courts of the Lord. In other words, those who sat at the money tables, and those who sat selling doves, and perhaps other various forms of offerings to present unto the Lord had taken the act of worship and had commercialized it in such a way that they actually created a business out of worshipping the Lord. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that there were those during the days of Jesus who would dare commercialize and created a business out of the worship of the living God. There would be those who would take the reality of presenting offerings before and offerings unto the Lord and would ac causally charge a monetary fee in order to obtain offerings unto the Lord. No longer would men and women have to take from that which belonged to them, and no longer would they take the best of what was present within their own herd and flock, but they could now enter into the courts of the Lord and purchase an offering which would be given unto the Lord. No longer would they have to take the first and the best of what was present within their own herd and flock and present it as an offering unto the Lord, but they could now simply enter into the courts of the Lord and purchase the offering they would present unto the Lord. Think about how absolutely crazy this particular reality and concept is, for there were those present during Jesus’ day who would actually charge a fee in order that people would worship the Lord with their gifts and offerings. The question I must ask myself is even though the offering which they would present unto the Lord cost them something in terms of spending money to obtain it, were they really presenting and bringing unto the Lord an offering that was pleasing and acceptable in His sight? That which they presented unto the Lord as worship and that which they presented unto the Lord as an offering would indeed cost them something, however, it would not require them to give up the best and the first of that which they had within their herd and flock. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—there is something pure and there is something holy about taking the first of what we have and presenting it unto the Lord. There is something about taking the best of what we have and presenting and offering it unto the Lord. There is something to be said about taking that which was found within our herd and that which was found within our flock and bringing it before the Lord to present as an offering and sacrifice before Him in His sight.

There is an Old Testament passage of Scripture which describes an event that took place within the life of David, and how David sought to present an offering unto the Lord. As you read this particular passage of Scripture you will find that David would purchase a specific plot of land, as well as an offering in order that he might present it unto the Lord as a sweet smelling and fragrant aroma before and unto the living God. In the twenty-first chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles we find David committing an act that was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, for David would number the armies of Israel in an act of pride and arrogance before the living God. As you read this particular chapter you will notice that that which David did in the sight of the Lord was displeasing unto Him, and as a direct result of David’s actions, the Lord would send an angel to destroy the city of Jerusalem. As the passage continues and progresses you will find that in order for the devastation and destruction which would take place within the city of Jerusalem to be stopped and stayed, David would need to built an altar before and unto the Lord, and would need to offer unto the Lord an offering and sacrifice which would be found in the sight of the Lord. Beginning with the eighteenth verse of the twenty-first chapter we find the following account concerning David and the staying of the devastation and destruction that would take place within the city of Jerusalem:

“Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebustie. And David weren’t up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord. And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat. And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshing floor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant if me for the full place: that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all. And king David said to Ornan, nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offering without cost. So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight. And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword into the sheath thereof. At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibson. But David could not go before it to inquire of God: for He was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord. Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God” (1 Chronicles 21:18-22:2).

I absolutely love that which is found in this particular passage of Scripture, for not only do we find David unwilling to offer unto the Lord that which cost him nothing, but we also find Ornan the Jebusite willing to give unto David all that he had. As you read this passage of Scripture you will notice that not only was there present within it Ornan’s willingness to give unto David everything he needed in order to build an altar unto the Lord, but we also find David unwilling to simply take that which was offered unto him and offer unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. It’s worth noting that when David came unto and approached Ornan, he plainly declared unto him that which he needed and that which he wanted to do—namely, to build an altar unto the living God, and to present offerings upon it in order that the plague might be stayed within the city of Jerusalem. Ornan knew exactly what David needed the threshing floor for, and exactly what David needed oxen for in order that David might present unto the Lord an offering that was pleasing and acceptable in His sight. Ornan sought simply to give David the threshing floor, as well as the oxen, as well the threshing instruments, and even the wheat for the offering at no cost to David, however, David was completely unwilling to offer unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. If David was going to present offerings unto the Lord, David was going to offer unto the Lord that which did in fact cost him something. David wasn’t willing simply to accept Ornan’s offering unto him, and to use that offering in order that he might build an altar unto the Lord in order that the plague might be stopped. David recognized and understood that in order for him to truly worship the living God there on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he needed to offer unto the Lord that which did in fact cost him something. The author of the book of First Chronicles writes how David declared unto Ornan that he would purchase the threshing floor and the oxen needed for the offerings at full price in order that he might worship the Lord in that place. I absolutely love that not only did David declare unto Ornan that he would buy it at full price, but David also declared that he would not offer unto the Lord burnt offerings without cost. If David was going to worship the living God, there needed to be a cost associated with it. If David was going to worship the living God there in the place of the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, David would take that which cost him something, and only after it had cost him something would he then present offerings before and offerings unto the Lord.

There is something interesting and unique about that which we find within this passage of Scripture, for while we can transition to the book of Second Chronicles and read of the offerings Solomon offered at the dedication of the Temple of the Lord within the city of Jerusalem, and while we can read of the Lord answering and responding to Solomon by consuming the offerings with fire from heaven—this was not the first time fire from heaven would fall in this particular place. In all reality, the fire which fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifices and offerings which Solomon offered would in all reality be a second fire that would fall—a second and subsequent fire that would proceed the fire which fell when David, Solomon’s father would build an altar unto the Lord, and present unto Him offerings in that place. It’s worth noting that when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing floor, he continued to sacrifice there in that place. What’s more, is that as you begin reading the twenty-second chapter of this Old Testament book you will find David declaring of that place that it was the house of the Lord God, and that place was the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. In other words, that place which David purchased to sacrifice offerings and gifts unto the living God would in fact be the very place where the Temple of the living God would be built within the city of Jerusalem. There in that place—there in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite—David would not only built an altar unto the Lord, but would offer unto the Lord burnt offerings and sacrifices before the Lord. It would be there in that place where the Lord would answer and respond to David with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering which David had built. I find it absolutely amazing how the Lord answered and responded to David’s offering upon the altar of burnt offering by sending fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering, and how it would be there in that place where David would declare the Temple and house of the living God would be present. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think that in the very same place where David the king of Israel offered unto the Lord burnt offerings and sacrifices unto the Lord in order that the plague might be stopped would be the very place where the Temple of the Lord would be built—that place where men and women would bring their offerings unto the Lord for peace offerings, for meat offerings, for grain offerings, and for burnt offerings. The place where David built the altar and presented offerings and sacrifices unto the living God on the threshing floor of Ornan would be the very place where the Lord would answer with fire from heaven, and the very place where the Temple of the living God would be built.

That which we find in this particular passage of Scripture is actually quite interesting and quite remarkable, for it is essentially a precursor, a sign, and a portent if you will of that which would come in the next generation, for while David designated that place as the site of the temple of the Lord which would stand in the city of Jerusalem, it would be his son Solomon who would build unto the Lord the temple which would stand in the city of Jerusalem. While it was in the heart of David to built a temple unto the living God there in the city of Jerusalem, it would be his son Solomon who would actually build the house where the people of God would worship him. While the twenty-second chapter of the book of First Chronicles details and describes David’s preparations for the house of the living God within the city of Jerusalem, it would be his son Solomon who would actually build the house and Temple unto the living God. What’s more, is that when you come to the completion and dedication of the Temple of the Lord within the city of Jerusalem, you will find Solomon presenting offerings and gifts unto the living God upon the altar of burnt offering which would stand in the courts of the Lord. If you turn and transition your attention to the fifth and seventh chapters of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles you will not only find the account of the glory and presence of the living God filling the Temple and house which stood in the city of Jerusalem, but you will also find something very specific taking place at and upon the altar of burnt offering which stood in the courts of the Lord. Consider if you will first that which took place in the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles beginning with the thirteenth verse:

“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musicians, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endure the for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).

It is within this particular passage of Scripture where we find the Lord responding to the sound of worship which was taking place within the Temple of the Lord by causing His shekinah glory to completely fill and consume the house. The author of this Old Testament book would go on to write hose so thick and so incredible was the glory and presence of the Lord there in the Temple of the Lord that the priests could not stand to minister before the Lord. The glory of the Lord had filled the house of the living God, and so thick and so incredible was that glory that the priests could not stand to minister before the Lord there in the courts of the Lord. When you come to the seventh chapter of the same Old Testament book you will find the account of the dedication of the Temple continuing, as the author of this Old Testament book would go on to write concerning the Lord’s response—not only His response to the sound of worship which took place in the courts of the Lord, and not only in response to the prayer of Solomon, but also the offerings and sacrifices which were presented upon the altar of burnt offering. Beginning with the first verse of the seventh chapter of this Old Testament book we find the following words which were written and recorded by the author of the book:

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever. Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before therm, and all Israel stood. Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brazen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat. Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt. And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David and to Solomon, and to Israel His people” (2 Chronicles 7:1-10).

I absolutely love what I find and what I read in the seventh chapter of the book of Second Chronicles, as well as the twenty-first chapter of the book of First Chronicles for the fire which we find falling at the dedication of the Temple of the Lord upon the altar of burnt offering would actually be a second fire that would fall in that place. There would be a first fire that would fall in that place—a fire that would fall when David, Solomon’s father would build an altar unto the living God on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The fire which we find falling upon the altar of burnt offering at the dedication of the Temple would actually be a second and subsequent fire that would proceed and follow an initial fire which would fall when David king of Israel built an altar unto the Lord and would present unto the Lord offerings which came at a great cost to him. This is actually imperative, for I can’t help but get the strong sense that in this generation—not only do we need to revisit the fire(s) which fell in previous generations, but we need to seek the face of the Lord that fire would in fact fall within our generation. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a second, subsequent fire that needs to fall in this generation—a fire that proceeds the fire which fell in previous generations. It is one thing to read about how the fire of God fell upon the altars which were built unto the Lord in previous generations, and how men in previous generations experienced the fire of the living God coming down from heaven, but it is something altogether different to experience the fire of heaven falling upon the altar within our own generation. There is something drastically different between merely reading about the fire falling upon altars of sacrifice and offering in previous generation, for those stories and accounts may stir our faith and enhance a desire that is present within our hearts and souls. While it might be true that such stories and such accounts might stir our faith and might enhance the desire within our hearts for the fire of the living God to fall afresh in our generation, those stories and accounts must not be a substitute for fire falling within our generation. I am convinced there are those present within our generation who would be content with reading the stories and accounts of fire falling in previous generations, and they have absolutely no desire for the fire to fall in their own generation. There are those present among us within this generation who read stories and accounts of fire falling from heaven upon the altars built and prepared unto the Lord, and yet such stories do absolutely nothing within their hearts and spirits to desire and pursue the fire of the living God falling within their generation. When I read the account of the fire of God falling from heaven upon the altar which David built on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, and when I read the account of fire falling a second time upon the altar of burnt offering which would be built in the courts of the Temple of the Lord during the days of Solomon, I can’t help but be stirred within my heart and spirit concerning a second fire falling within and upon this generation—a fire that comes from heaven and completely consumes the offerings and sacrifices which we as the people of God offer unto the living God. THERE COMES A SECOND FIRE! MOVING BEYOND THE INITIAL FIRE! SEEKING THE SECOND FIRE!

When you come to the latter and final portion of the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find Jesus sitting over against the treasury and observing with His disciples all those who presented their offerings before the Lord. While sitting against the treasury Jesus observed a poor widow who threw in two mites, which make a farthing. After observing and watching countless men and women enter into the treasury and give of their wealth offerings unto the Lord, Jesus now sees this lowly, poor widow throw in two mites as her offering before and unto the Lord. What marks and what makes this so incredibly powerful and unique is what Jesus declares and speaks concerning this poor widow, for Jesus declared that this widow cast more in than all those which cast into the treasury, for all those which came before her did cast in of their abundance, but she cast in of her want cast in all she had, even all her living. GIVING OUT OF LACK! GIVING OUT OF POVERTY! GIVING FROM NOTHING! It’s worth noting when reading this particular passage of Scripture that Jesus emphatically declared unto His disciples that this poor widow had given more than all those who had gone before her, for although they gave much, they gave out of abundance. There is a vast difference between giving out of abundance, and giving out of lack and giving out of a lack within your life. Jesus emphatically declared concerning this poor widow that her two mites was more than everything all the others who had gone before her had given, for while others gave out of their abundance, she had given out of her lack all she had. Notice how Jesus not only declared how this woman gave from a place of lack and poverty, but Jesus also declared how this woman had given all she had. I can’t help but be reminded of how often I walk through the streets of Boston on my way to and from work and all the homeless people that I see out on the streets begging for money in order that they might get something to eat, or in order that they might get something to drink. I can’t help but think of such individuals entering into our houses of worship and entering into our churches and casting in what they have received while out on the streets. Is it possible, and would it be possible that such individuals would cast into the offering and present unto the Lord much more than any of us who give from a place of abundance and not from a place of lack. Oh, I can’t help but think about David’s words to Ornan the Jebusite when he declared how he would and could not give unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. David’s words ring loud and clear when we think about and consider the account of this widow, for she had given unto the Lord that which cost her something. This poor widow cast into the treasury two mites which was not only all she had, but also all her living. I am also reminded of the widow who during the days of Elijah had given unto the prophet from a place of lack and poverty only to find and discover that by giving out of her lack and by giving out of her poverty, the Lord would take and bless what she had given unto the prophet.

Oh, there is something about giving from a place of lack, and something about giving our all—even when it hurts, and even when it is painful—that is truly pleasing in the sight of the living God. Jesus emphatically declared of this woman how she had given more than all the others which had gone before her, for she had given out of and from a place of poverty and lack rather than all those who had given from a place of abundance and plenty. That which we must understand and that which we must come to terms within when reading this particular passage of Scripture is not merely giving from and out of a place of lack and want, but also giving unto the Lord that which cost us something. Tell me—when was the last time you gave unto the Lord, and by doing so, it was actually somewhat painful for you because you weren’t sure how you were going to survive? This woman was not only a widow, but this woman was also poor, thus enhancing her lack and her need, and it was from and out of that place where she gave unto the living God. Oh that we would be directly confronted with the spirit and heart of giving, and that we would not offer unto the Lord that which cost us nothing. Oh that we would be a people who would present unto the Lord that which is required of us, yes, but also that we would give unto the Lord that which costs us something. Oh that we would move and transition from cheap, and even free worship, and would begin to present unto the Lord costly worship—worship that costs us something, and sometimes, that which costs us everything. I leave you with the account of Mary who took her alabaster jar, broke it upon the feet of Jesus, and not only anointed Him for burial, but also worshiped Him:

“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let here alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (John 12:1-8).

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