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One Raspberry

At one of the Holocaust museums, a special poem highlights the poverty that existed during this time period. Gerda Weissmann Klein details this specific act of kindness. After being dragged away from their homes and escorted to concentration camps, one individual found a fresh raspberry, placing it inside their pocket. Instead of fulfilling their hunger pains, this raspberry was offered as a gift to a friend.

And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich [people] were throwing in large sums. 42 And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent, Mark 12:41-42.

Earlier in the first century, Jesus witnessed a similar act of kindness. While most onlookers were eager to see what the rich were giving, Jesus watched a widow give everything she possessed. Broke, homeless and lonely without a family to take care of her needs, this widow understood the concept of daily bread. It’s unclear if this woman was present at the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, but she trusted that God would somehow provide her next meal.

Give us this day our daily bread, Matthew 6:11.

As the Coronavirus continues to close businesses, restaurants and stores across the country, sources of income are vanishing. Meanwhile, church services are being cancelled as pastors are live streaming sermons in front of a few people. As wealth is disappearing while the Stock Market continues to plummet, tithing is limited to online donations. This current crisis is forcing individuals to rethink their giving practices. Are you going to hold on to what you have in your pocket or raid your spare change jar to give? Whatever you decide, may the One Raspberry poem inspire you to give what you have to meet someone else’s needs.

by Jay Mankus

How Rich is Your Faith?

The concept of a stock market dates back nearly 500 years.  The first stock exchange began in 1531 as Belgium brokers and money lenders met in the city of Antwerp to deal with business, government and debt issues.  While the New York Stock Exchange is the most powerful and famous in the United States, the first began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.  Today, there are cable networks devoted to following the rise and fall of modern markets.  Green is good and red bad as a ticker scrolls across the screen revealing up to the second results of trading.  Depending upon how a stock is trending, individuals scramble to buy or sell to maximize their investments.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

Recently, I have begun to view my faith in terms of a stock market.  If you could take the past year, placing your degree of faith on a flow chart, similar to the highs and lows of a stock, what would it look like?  At your peak, what elevated or lifted you to this all time high.  Meanwhile, when you reflect back upon your lowest lows, what caused you to experience, feel and end up in a rock bottom emotional state?  Have you come to your senses like the prodigal son in Luke 15?  Or has depression kept you paralyzed, enslaved by an addiction, bad habit or an undisciplined life?  In the passage above, the apostle Paul gives some advice to the poor in faith.  Investing time listening, reading and studying the Bible is a goldmine to those who want to become rich in faith.

“So it is for the one who continues to store up and hoard possessions for himself, and is not rich [in his relationship] toward God,” Luke 12:21.

Following the parable of the wealthy fool, Jesus reveals the reason why people hoard possessions on earth.  When individuals focus on their own concerns and needs, hobbies can become obsessions.  If there is no one to intervene, people end up on reality televisions shows like Hoarders or are visited by the crew from American Pickers.  According to Jesus, the way to reverse this trend is by improving your relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Those who make investments in Bible Studies, mission trips or prayer groups will begin to see spiritual earnings rise.  As individuals connect with God daily through church related activities and a personal quiet time, your faith will rise.  Everyone will experience drops, falls and slides throughout life.  However, if you develop a resolve like the persistent widow in Luke 18, you will become rich in faith.

by Jay Mankus

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