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erick's picture

God has clearly described His priorities for our giving.
Let's start with the big picture-which can't get any bigger than the greatest commandments mentioned by Jesus:
Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 'This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it : 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "(Matthew 22:35-39)
In these brief words Jesus summarized thousands of years of laws and prophetic commands. Love God first; then love people. Jesus also gave us the great commission, which gets a little more specific:
Go therefore and make disciplines of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,' and surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
(Matthew 28: 19-20)
It's clear that these commands of Jesus should affect the way we live. But they should also affect the way we give.

To begin designing  yours, ask yourself the following questions
1. Where should I be making an impact with my giving?
2. What am I trying to accomplish with my giving?
3. How has God specifically gifted and called me to achieve these goals?
1.    WHERE?   
The disciples were to impact their local area (Jerusalem), their region (Judea and Samaria), and the whole globe ("the end of the earth").
-Local. Most people invest the largest part of their giving locally. Programs that benefit local churches, schools, hospitals- and so forth are popular for obvious reasons: people see the benefit of their giving on a regular basis. Results are easier to measure. Loyalty and a sense of community are also major factors.
-Regional. Regional investment extends our view beyond community to the outer reaches of our cultural boundaries.
-Global. Global investments are focused outside our cultural boundaries. They might also work within our region or local area, but the main trust is elsewhere around the world. An example might be a relief organization that works all over the world to reduce poverty and hunger.

2.    WHAT?
1. Reaching people with the gospel of Christ (evangelism)
2. Teaching Christian biblical truth about how to live as disciples of Christ (discipleship), and
3. Ministering to physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in the name of Christ (mercy).
Jesus spoke about the importance of supporting this effort:
And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward. (Matthew 10: 40-42).
The major sectors within evangelistic organizations include Bible translation/distribution, church planting, and group/event focus. There can be additional categories within each of these.
Bible translation/distribution is a straightforward category describing those organizations committed to making the word of God available to all people in all languages around the world.
Church planting includes organizations as well as individuals who develop strategies and train pastors to start Christian communities in traditional and nontraditional settings. In some countries these churches are simply groups of believers meeting in each other's houses. Many missionaries are part of the church-planting category. It's almost impossible to overestimate the impact of Christians investing selflessly in this area.
The second major asset class within the Eternity Portfolio is discipleship¬ the opportunity to invest in people and organizations that are focused on the spiritual growth of the church.
Within the Christian community today are many different types of organizations aimed at discipleship. The major categories include counseling, Christian education and research or curriculum development.
Counseling ministries focus on the one-on-one interaction that can take place over a variety of topics including marriage, finances and spiritual growth. The purpose is to help Christians (and often non-Christians) overcome obstacles in their lives and serve God more fully.
Christian Education is typically broad-based group discipleship.
Radio programs, Bible studies, Christian schools and universities-all these and more fall into this category.
Ministering to the needs of the poor receives more explicit emphasis in the Bible than any other area of giving. Verse after verse encourages those who love God to engage in this tangible expression of His love for others. Let's look at just a few of the many verses:
-If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother. (Deuteronomy 15: 7)

-Blessed is he who considers the poor,' the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth. (Psalm 41: 1 - 2)
-He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and he will pay back what he has given. (Proverbs 19: 17)
-He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for ha gives of his bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22: 9)
It was obvious from His teaching and actions that Jesus was passionate about the plight of the poor, the sick, and the helpless. He fed them, healed them, and gave them hope regularly during His earthly ministry.
The mercy category can be divided into three main areas, food/clothing/shelter
Another subcategory is health care, which covers research, treatment, and preventive measures. Free of charge or discounted health clinics, humanitarian medical care in foreign countries, hospice care centers-all are examples of this category.
There are two main reasons you want to be invested in the mercy category. First, helping those who cannot help themselves is an outward display of the love of God in your heart. John wrote of this to the early Christians:
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we a/so ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's
goods, and sees his brothers in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3 -.16 - 17)
As Christ have loved us and given Himself for us, we are to do likewise for the hurting and helpless.
Second, the mercy sector is in many ways the facilitator of the other part of the Christian mission. Physical needs take precedence over spiritual needs. If person is starving, he likely won't able to consider spiritual issues until his hunger is satisfied.
Blended Investments
Many organizations are focused in more than one major area. From a practical and theological sense, it is often difficult to tell where mercy ends and evangelism begins, or where evangelism ends and discipleship begins. In fact, the best organizations will have elements of each. There is no need to make rigid distinctions when building your portfolio. However, I have found it helpful when evaluating investments to identify the major thrust of each organization for purposes of the portfolio.
3.    HOW ?

Starts at 70 percent of their income.
(1) First, 10 percent of their income is allocated to their local church.
(2) Then 15 percent goes to what they call "small sustaining" gifts. These include helping needy families as the opportunities arise, "dollar swapping", and other gifts of encouragement that arise spontaneously.
(3) giving is 45 percent to what they consider strategic investments.

10 percent investment in your church.
1. Informed, coordinated effort. To be aware of needs in the local community
2. Diversification. To focus simultaneously on specific elements of the threefold mission: evangelism, discipleship and mercy.
3. Worship. The giving process is a vital part of worship.
4. Personal benefit. Invest in the organizations that are investing in the spiritual, social and physical development of you and your family.
5. Personal opportunity. In addition to your money, you can invest freely of your time and abilities.
6. Accountability.
Now you are the body of Christ and members of individually.
Paul is saying that we have each been uniquely gifted and motivated. You need to determine where your calling lies and pursue- that with your time, abilities, and investments.
Some of your most strategic opportunities will arise within your local church. I would classify those investments under your personal mission.
Perhaps you have no idea about what personal mission God has called you to. Begin praying for God to specifically lead you to His plan. Study the Bible for insight.
Seek God's will in prayer and bible study. You will know when you find it because your energy and passion for life and ministry will explode.
As God leads, invest your money. True joy and fulfillment in Christ are the result of haves your life in alignment with God's purpose.
Based on the overwhelming coverage of the topic in Scripture, I can only conclude that God really wants us to give to the poor. A major part of God's plan to reveal Himself to the world is through the righteous and selfless acts of Christians. We need to get in on this plan.

Unfortunately, waste and corruption have often been the hallmark of government welfare programs. This is a grave concern to us as strategic investors since we have no interest in funding programs that perpetuate the poverty cycle or giving money that gets siphoned off to special-interest groups. However, our responsibility to remember the poor is not lessened by the potential for abuse. There are organizations that operate effectively no corruption no siphoned off in this sector. If you take the time to understand the organizations you support, you can lessen the likelihood that your investment will be wasted or mismanaged. When it comes to gifts to help struggling families or individuals, we should try to have discernment but err on the side of generosity.

Spontaneous giving brings joy. Sometimes the opportunity is a missionary in a developing country who needs a new power generator. Maybe a family just lost their home in a flood.
Whatever the cause, most of us are wired to respond to urgent cries for help. The problem arises when we must look around for available funds to meet that need-which typically means unplanned personal sacrifice.



*Taken from THE ETERNITY PORTFOLIO:  By Alan Gotthardt



Lord, when I have a hammer like YOU, every problem becomes a nail. =)