Have you ever wondered what you can do to get God’s attention? The truth is he is always giving us his full attention. He is always at the peak of his capacity and willingness to shine his goodness on us. The issue is already settled. We are his beloved children forever highly-favoured and greatly blessed in Christ!
Knowing who we are in Christ is the first step to enjoying what we have in him. The bottom line here is can we really believe it? Do we really grasp it? The Good News of the gospel is so outrageous that we can hardly accept it! God is our Heavenly Father and he takes infinitely good care of us. When it comes to our physical needs, Jesus encouraged us never to doubt the goodness of God. He said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:31-33).
In the same way God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers of the field he also takes care of his children – only much more so. We are infinitely valuable to him. If this is so, why do we worry so much? How is it we do not trust him more?
The answer to this has to do with how we are experiencing his lavish grace. We know that God’s blessings in Christ are free and fully-granted in Christ. But how do we enter into them? The answer is nothing to do with the works of the law or other fleshly religious attempts to earn God’s blessing. Rather, God’s grace, once understood, is so liberating that it can only lead to one thing – simple faith expressed through a heart of overwhelming gratitude.
This means there is no formula or a method for getting answers from God. He is our Heavenly Father, not a slot machine. Our relationship with him is based on faith, not formulas.
The Bible teaches that faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). And at the heart of love is giving. God’s love is expressed through the gift of his Son. Our love too will be expressed in our giving. We give to God our joy, our thanks and our very lives, and this leads to an outrageous willingness to make our resources available to him for the purposes of his kingdom. That’s why our giving releases so much of his blessing into our lives.
Build a memorial One form of giving particularly demonstrates God’s joy when we give to him sacrificially from our hearts – memorial offerings. There are two main examples of a memorial offering in the New Testament: a generous Roman Centurion and a woman with a jar of ointment. Both of these offerings established something permanent in the presence of God. This is what a memorial is: a permanent “remembrance” which acts as a kind of reminder to God, just as he “remembered” his covenant with Moses and so came to act on his behalf or remembered not to judge Israel through the memorial of the Passover.
For us today, we need to understand that faithful, sacrificial giving, mixed with faith, can get God’s attention so that he “remembers” us and acts to meet our need and answer our prayers.
Cornelius’ memorial The Roman soldier Cornelius was a devout man who feared God. He gave generously to the needy around him and he consistently prayed to God. The combination of faith, prayer and giving were already mixing together in his life. We can see that such an approach to life is appealing to God because the Bible tells us God sent an angel to Cornelius bearing this message:
“Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:4)
Cornelius’ prayer and generous heart drew a dramatic response from God. All the time he was giving he was building himself a memorial in Heaven until the point came when Cornelius had God’s full attention and he responded to his needs. When Peter met Cornelius he reiterated what the angel had said, “Your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.” (Acts 10:31)
Look at the emphasis of Peter’s words “…are remembered”. They are present tense – a present and permanent reminder before God. It meant that God would continually be reminded of Cornelius’ needs and then act on his behalf.
A woman with expensive ointment
In the Gospels we read of a woman who built herself a memorial through her actions. She had in her possession a very expensive jar of ointment. She may have received it via family inheritance or she may have been keeping it as an investment to provide for her old age. But whatever the reason, she was overcome with love for Jesus and her chief desire was to serve him, so she broke the jar and poured the fragrant ointment on him in an astonishing act of worship.
It is interesting to note that she was immediately criticized for her actions. It is amazing how people will often pour scorn upon sacrificial acts of worship to God. Lavish displays of worship and generous tokens of love offend the worldly-minded, but they provide sweet and fragrant worship to Jesus. Jesus defended the woman against her attackers.
“She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what this woman did will also be spoken of as a memorial to her.” (Mark 14:8-9)
Jesus promised that this woman’s sacrificial giving would be remembered, and it was. It was recorded in the Gospels for future generations to hear about. More importantly, this lady’s offering was recorded and remembered in Heaven. She is now reaping her eternal reward. You might wonder how much would one have to give before God responded as dramatically as he did to these people? The woman’s ointment was worth the equivalent of a whole year’s salary, but that is not the point here. Jesus said of her, “She did what she could.” An offering that you decide to make in order to honour God could cost you a year’s salary, or it could be what you earn in one week – or anything the Holy Spirit lays on your heart. The amount is not the issue. Doing what we can to honour God and bless others is the point.
When it comes to giving, listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and allow him to speak to you about you requests. He will show you when and how, and how much to give and God will bless you, not because you gave a gift, but through your attitude of heart’s response to his grace.