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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

Generosity

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Celebrate Diversity

March 4th, 2015

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:6 NIV.

In  diversity, not conformity, is found unity.

My thoughts and comments today are that you “celebrate diversity.”

Your fingerprints are unique from every other person born before and after you. And science has discovered that every individual has a DNA, which is distinct from every other person before and after you. God loves diversity. When God created the universe, “He determined the number of the stars and called them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power.” Psalm 147:4-5 NIV. Read Isaiah 40:26 NIV. At creation, God’s love of diversity is displayed in the innumerable species of plants, animals, birds, and marine life. “Then God looked over all He had made and He saw that it was excellent in every way.” Genesis 1:31 NLT.

Could the disciples Jesus chose be any more diverse? They were fishermen, tax collectors, or political zealots. In the work of the Kingdom of God, “So in Christ . . we have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Read Romans 12:3-8 NIV. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. To John, the aging disciple imprisoned on Patmos, was shown the end of time, “Before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9 NIV.

In diversity, not conformity, is found true unity. Diversity is not to distinguish you from others and certainly not to separate you from them; God-given diversity is how you best complement others and contribute meaningfully to their well-being. You serve best out of the uniqueness God designed for you. “Accept one another then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you.” Romans 15:6 TEV. Acceptance offers a powerful release for the full potential Christ has placed in each of us. The acceptance Jesus offers you, He intends for you to offer to others.

Why then are people inclined toward conformity and less accommodating of diversity? I think that tendency may be a vestige of our fallen natures. Something about our native insecurity makes us want to be like everyone else, or want others to conform to us. A copy of anything is never as good as the original from which it was copied. You are an original, uniquely planned and purposed by God. Don’t blend in with the surrounding culture. Don’t adapt to those around you.  Be yourself. Celebrate diversity; conformity is futile. “For we dare not compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12. Don’t compare yourself with others, which causes either pride or disappointment. Nor should you be different for the sake of being different.

The Apostle Paul described, “your spiritual act of worship,” with this Godly counsel, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2-3 NIV. The process of transformation into all that God designed you to be and gifted you to do removes the impulse to conform to the world’s patterns and ways. Be your best self to serve God and bless others.

Here’s the good news of a promised day to come, “Now are we the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2.

Today, my prayer for you is that you discover who God created you to be.

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Tired of Being Tired

July 11th, 2014

“Come unto Me all who are weary . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 NIV.

Life is exhausting when you do not know when or where you will find true rest.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “tired of being tired.”

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Fatigue affects everything you feel and do, both your attitudes and actions. Everyone knows what it means to feel tired – tired of working, tired of responsibilities, tired of bills, tired of problems, or tired of conflict. You are never at your best physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, when weary. Weariness makes everything harder, only adding further to your tiredness; even things you would find easy are more taxing when already tired. Life is exhausting when you do not know when or where you will find true rest. Eventually, you just feel tired of being tired.

I think that even things you want to do can be tiring, and the worst tiredness is not just physical. There is a weariness of soul that is worse. “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for you will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:9. Keep your goals and objectives clearly in focus, remembering why you are doing what you are doing and with expectation that reward and satisfaction will follow proper completion.

You were created to be fruitful and productive but also, God wisely built into your emotional and spiritual DNA the requirement for rest, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.” Exodus 34:21. Planting and harvest would seem the least likely times to seek the luxury of down time. But God says that, both when preparing the soil for planting and when finally reaping the harvest from your efforts, you need to observe the Sabbath principle of rest. The Sabbath principle is not optional; God commanded, ”Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8. Ignore that at your own peril.

When truly tired, you will be more negative about situations, more prone to see problems rather than solutions. When tired, motivation is difficult, and hopefulness is elusive. You will be less patient with yourself and others, poor company for those around you. Distinguish things that unnecessarily weary you. Worry, unmet needs, unfinished work, personal conflict, unforgiveness, sinfulness (See Isaiah 57:20-21 NKJV), discouragement, or unrelenting busyness will always deplete your personal, inner resources, unless you choose to live by God’s counsel. Bring them all to Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” St Augustine, 4th Century.

Are you finally tired of being tired? Rest is found, not in a place, but in a Person. “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. The Bible says, “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you . . Those who wait upon God get fresh strength; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.” Psalm 116:7 NKJV/Isaiah 40:31 MSG.

Today, my prayer for you is that you know when and where to find true rest for your soul.

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Successfully Serving

October 10th, 2012

“I depend on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” Colossians 1:29 NLT.

Serving is simply letting God touch a person’s life through your hands and heart.

My thoughts and comments today are about serving successfully.”

Serving is no easy task. That may help explain why so few people ever experience the joy of serving. A serving lifestyle takes so much sacrifice and hard work, and sometimes receives so little appreciation. Jesus was clear about His mission and modeled the only way to serve successfully. “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 NIV.

Serving is a practical sacrifice for others’ benefit and God’s glory. My friend, Des, has often reminded me and others that, “It isn’t ministry unless it costs you something.” Doing the right thing doesn’t come at a cheap price. Serving is costly – costing time, effort, expense, caring, and the willingness to be second, rather than first. That may not be how you wish it were but is so basic, even obvious, when you understand serving; there is a cost to be paid but incredible blessings result to those being served, and amply repay the one who joyfully serves. A servant has Jesus’ own promise of reward. “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water . . because he is My disciple . . he will certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 NIV.

Serving restores your heart to God’s original design. Listen to Paul’s words, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT. Serving restores your spiritual DNA when you embrace faith in the Savior. What would serving look like? “Through love, serve one another . . in honor, giving preference to one another . . let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out for the interests of others.” Galatians 5:13/Romans 12:10/Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV. Selfless serving was unnatural to your old nature, but altogether normal for your redeemed life. “There must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness – righteous, holy, and true.” Ephesians 4:23-24 NLT.

Serving successfully is only through Christ’s power and enabling. My friend, Campbell, taught me this practical truth, “If you want to know how you well are doing as a servant, just notice your reaction when someone treats you like one.” A servant does not look for notice nor require applause; they just want to be helpful and effective. Serving is simply letting God touch a person’s life through your hands and heart. “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything coming from ourselves . . but from God who also made us adequate as servants . .” See 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NASV.

Paul discovered his own inadequacy to love and serve at all times, and in his dependence also found the solution; “I depend on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” Colossians 1:29 NLT. If you depend on anything less than God, you will fail as a servant. If you look for others’ approval and appreciation you will grow discouraged at times. A servant’s heart is content just to please the Master who called us. You too will need, and can depend upon, Christ’s mighty power to work within you, creating a heart to serve and a release of joy.

My prayer for you today is that you find serving to be joyous, not grievous.

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Abounding Life

June 13th, 2012

“Be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

A small life is no credit to your Creator’s intention.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abounding life.”

Every life has God-given potential. When lives with so much potential are lived on a marginal scale, it is sad. The routine and repetition can shrink your estimation of the expansive life available to you. Smallness and scarcity is not in your spiritual DNA. A small life is no credit to your Creator’s intention. Jesus expressed the Father’s heart, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. In Christ alone, you find abounding life!

In his powerful explanation of resurrection, Paul concludes with a most practical application. “Therefore . .” in light of all that precedes and as introduction to what follows – . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV. My friend, Campbell, often reminded me that “whenever Scripture says, ‘therefore,’ stop and see what it is there for.” Jesus’ resurrection is God’s assurance of the “power of His resurrection” for abounding life today and everyday, not just someday. See Philippians 3:10 NKJV.

Would you describe your life as abounding – in your faith, marriage, family, relationships, career, or finances? This is God’s goal for your life, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. What would abounding life look like for you? I think it would include bigger dreams, focused effort, clear priorities, strong confidence, firm faith, greater risk-taking, joyful anticipation, peaceful satisfaction, and so many other expressions of living above the norm. God intends His provision and purpose “more abundantly” for you.

The supernatural finds expression in the most natural, beneficial ways. “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 liberality] also.” 2 Corinthians 8:7 NKJV. His life enables you to remain “steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding” in all you do in His name and in obedience to His direction. To the extent that you choose to live steadfast and immoveable in your life of faith, your life will abound with God’s blessing. “A faithful man will abound with blessings.” Proverbs 28:20 NKJV.

This supernatural quality of life does not just happen; abounding life results from the practical ways you choose to live your life. ”Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 NKJV. You build an abounding life by living according to God’s Word.

My prayer for you today is that life abounds and overflows with goodness and blessings

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