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Liberality

April 1st, 2016

“He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

Generosity has gratitude as its source.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “liberality.”

On a particular occasion, Gayle and I were with friends. To each other, we commented on their effortless generosity. They were not trying to be generous; they aren’t required to be generous; they just live generously. We recognized those friends consistently evidence a generous heart – a heart much like God’s heart, joyfully absorbed with giving of themselves to serve others. As we drove away from our time with them, I said to Gayle, only partially in jest, “When I grow up, I want to be generous just like that.” With so many models in my life, and especially Gayle’s example, I should be better at this by now.

Let me share what I am learning. Giving is not from what you have, but from sharing what you are willing not to have. From God’s Word and example, you can learn to nurture a lifestyle that is consistently gracious and generous. I heard a minister instruct his congregation, “Give ‘till it hurts.” It is more productive to give until it stops hurting.

Generosity has gratitude as its source. Be grateful to God and others for all you have been given. When you struggle to be generous, the source is inadequate gratitude. There is an undeniable relationship between your amazed gratefulness to God and your consistent expression of generosity to others.

Generosity is rarely natural. Each of us is more naturally inclined to want to receive, rather than to give. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 NIV. A growing, giving heart comes as you choose who you should be, not what is natural to be.

Generosity requires practice. Giving is an acquired skill that you develop by consistently choosing to be generous. “They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.” 1 Tim 6:18 NLT.

Generosity recognizes everything comes from God and belongs to Him. At the heart of generosity is the truth that, “God gives us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17. You and I are not possessors, just stewards of what belongs to and comes from God. One day you and I will account for how we have served Him and others with the things and opportunities He provided us. Generosity is just a good and Godly practice.

Generosity is its own reward, to be practiced with grace and humility. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to practice generosity at every opportunity.

Christian Communications 2016

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Generosity

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Christmas Generosity

December 22nd, 2015

 

“Manage [your God-given gifts] well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” I Peter 4:10 NLT.

Generosity of heart engenders generosity of hand.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Christmas generosity.”

When the Wise Men followed the miraculous star to the Christ child of whom the prophets had written, “They fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 NKJV. In grateful humility, they presented themselves as preface to their gifts. Generosity overflows from grateful hearts. Generosity of heart engenders generosity of hand.

Let’s be practical; who doesn’t enjoy receiving good gifts? As I write, my wife, Gayle, is wrapping Christmas presents. As our family has grown with kids, grandkids, spouses and in-laws, and now great grandkids – and when you add to those the number of friends with which we have exchanged gifts across the years – there are a lot of presents to give. The Christmas celebration includes the practical expression of generosity. Generosity is the DNA of Christmas. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV. Giving is God’s nature.

Receive gratefully, then give generously. There is joy in shopping, choosing, and giving thoughtfully selected gifts. Paul recalled Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV. When you understand the principle, it is plain and simple; giving produces the greater blessing. God doesn’t promise to multiply what you are given; generously, He blesses what you give. Read Luke 6:38 NLT. Solomon wisely encouraged, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NLT.

You are gifted. God made you with unique gifts to offer others generously. “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT. Celebrate Christmas generously, neither measured nor managed. Be generous practically, giving patience, kindness, mercy, grace, love, and such like. Be generous personally, living without constraint. Be generous spiritually, sharing God’s love faithfully. Be generous financially, giving thoughtfully. Be generous emotionally, forgiving unconditionally. Forgiveness is given not loaned. Jesus was clear, “Give as freely as you have received.” Matthew 10:8 NLT. Be that person.

Today, I pray for you to practice generosity until that becomes your natural expression.

Christian Communications 2015

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The Joy of Generosity

February 17th, 2015

”He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

Generosity blesses the recipient and enriches the giver.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the joy of generosity.”

EDL pix generositySome years ago my friend, Harold, piqued my interest with these words, “What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.” That is a Biblical principle affirmed in both Old and New Testaments. If you need encouragement, find others to encourage. If you need friendship, be a friend to those who need a friend. There is always someone whose need is greater than yours. Give out of your own need until you can give out of your surplus. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” Ephesian 6:8 NIV. Be the one who meets the needs of others, and God will be the One who meets yours.

Those times when your generosity seems not to be noticed or reciprocated, remember your reward comes from God, not man. And God keeps immaculate records. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10 NIV. I remember my grandfather saying, “God will be no man’s debtor.” God counts every benevolence as generosity toward Him. Jesus described a day when everyone will stand before God as their generosity or lack thereof is reviewed. “Come you who are blessed by My Father . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Read Matthew 25:31-41 NIV.

Know this; liberality enriches you, leaving you with more not less. Generosity blesses the recipient and enriches the giver. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. You may think that you cannot afford to be generous; the truth is that you cannot afford to not be generous. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV. Generosity opens your life to the abundance of God while enriching the lives of others. I suggest that some measure of a person’s lack may even be the result of how little they give, rather than how little they have. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35.

Liberality is a lifestyle issue. “As you abound in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us – see that you abound in this grace (of giving) also.” 2 Corinthians 8:7. Generosity is not only about money and things, it is about a lifestyle of generosity – in your words to and about others, offering encouragement, being positive, and giving praise – in a lifestyle of unrestrained expression for others’ kindness – by consideration and thoughtfulness where it would not be expected – in helpfulness through giving your time or lending a helping hand – and by tolerance and forgiveness for others’ shortcomings.

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously . . for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work . . so that you can be generous on every occasion.” Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV. See Galatians 6:7-10 NIV. In the time of harvest the work and weariness of sowing is never regretted.

Today, my prayer for you is that what you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.

Christian Communications, Inc.

(Bible verses are NKJV unless noted)

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Crowned with Goodness

December 30th, 2013

“You crown the year with Your goodness.” Psalm 65:11 NKJV.

In every situation and season of life, you should expect the goodness of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “crowned with goodness.”

I love Christmas, yet I loved it even more when our grandchildren were young. I loved their gifts, inexpensive and wrapped as only a child does, but given with excitement and generosity. In my memory and heart, I can still hear their eager voices, “Poppa, Poppa, open my present.” Children best exemplify Jesus’ teaching, “Remember the words of our Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35b NKJV. Hardly able to wait for your unwrapping, a child brings a gift you receive with joy, not because of the nature of the gift, but because of their delight in giving it. I think this New Year should be received from God like that.

I am expectant of the goodness awaiting me and our family – and you and your family – in the New Year because God is enthusiastic about all He intends to provide. God’s character and intent is confirmed by the Psalmist, “The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV. Whatever seemed withheld previously was only out of His kindness, superior wisdom, and sovereign purpose for your greater good. What a great promise in which to give thanks to conclude this year and with which to begin a new one.

The annual change of calendar calls for appropriate reflection and preparation of heart. Too easily, the facts of His blessings and provision of the preceding year may be taken for granted and your faith for the approaching year diminished. James, the brother of Jesus, affirmed, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, Who . . never changes. In His goodness He chose to make us His own children by giving us His true Word. And we out of all creation became His choice possession.” James 1:17-18 NLT. Tracing every good thing in your life this last year leads to one source alone, God’s goodness.

In the context of an agricultural nation, David sang of Jehovah, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:11 NKJV. David declared God’s favor in all the nation’s seasons: planting, growing, and harvesting. His song describes, “The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing.” Read Vs. 9-13. Whatever season you are now in, God is sovereign and faithful, and you can see His goodness there.

In this industrial and technological society, your expectation should be the same as it was for David and Israel. The same timeless and eternal God will crown your year with His goodness. In every situation and season of life, you can and should expect and proclaim the goodness of God over your health, marriage, family, finances, occupation, relationships, and Godly pursuits. See Psalm 27:13 NKJV.

David responds with jubilant praise, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul. And forget not all His benefits . . Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies your mouth with good things.” Psalm 103:1-5 Psalm 103:1-5NKJV. Four times in Psalm 107, David’s heart overflows, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.” Psalm 107:8 NKJV. And I say, “Amen!”

My prayer for you today is that you expect and receive a new season of God’s goodness.

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Blessings in Disguise

November 22nd, 2013

“Problems and trials . . are good for us.”  Romans 5:3 NLT.

Rejoice even when you have to look for a reason to do so.

My thoughts and comments today are about “blessings in disguise.”

Apparently, my Mom believed I always knew what was good and presumed I would consistently chose the good. I am assuming all that because, from my preteen years, I can still remember her frequent, and necessary, warning to me, “Allen, if you know what’s good for you, you won’t do that again.” When I failed to know what was “good for me,” by a practical process of elimination, both Mom and Dad assisted me to learn what wasn’t. But we are all a bit like that, confusing what’s good for us with what’s not.

The reality is that we really don’t always know what is good for us, or at least we live as though we don’t know. We make foolish choices too often. The obvious choice is seldom the right choice. By nature it seems, we are prone to self-indulgence. You may assume self-interest is a good thing, yet the Bible teaches that self-denial is the path to choose. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23-25 NKJV. What’s good for you is this: follow Jesus fully, whatever sacrifice that requires.

Every one of us would prefer receiving, whether approval, applause, acclaim, recognition, or reward, but Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV. There is pleasure from what you receive, but that is comparatively brief; however, your satisfaction in what you give endures long after the gift. You might presume that what you give leaves you with less, but what you gives compounds itself to your benefit more than what you keep. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. What’s good for you is this: generosity is a wise investment in your own well-being. See Matthew 19:29 NKJV.

Any one of us would prefer a carefree life, without pressures or problems, as unlikely as that is to happen, but the Bible teaches that problems are not always a problem; sometimes, problems can be blessings in disguise. Not everyone sees past their disguise. I expect yours or my first question would likely be, “How do problems benefit us?” The Apostle Paul, no stranger to suffering, reflects on those blessings in disguise as a reason for our joy, ”We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us . .” Romans 5:3 NLT. See James 1:2-4 NIV. What’s good for you is this: rejoice even when you have to look for a reason to do so. See John 16:33 NIV.

Look closer at both the context and conclusion of Paul’s words to Christ-followers in Rome. “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:2 NLT. On that foundation, Paul adds a further, less likely but equally as important, cause for rejoicing, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us . .” Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Problems are no indication of God’s disfavor; problems are places where you discover God at His best.

My prayer for you today is that you not overlook any blessing, in whatever guise it comes.

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