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The Law of Return

February 13th, 2018

Life is reciprocal.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

 My thoughts and comments today are about, “the law of return.”

Life is not random, even though it occasionally appears to be. Life is reciprocal. It is important that you understand, “The Law of Return.” The principle is rather simple, but applies either positively or negatively. “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 . . He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” Proverbs 11:24-27 NIV. What is not to understand? God’s heart and desire were clear to the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. God’s promises are fulfilled within the measure of your obedience.

Let me state the principle simply and in a practical way. You get what you give, not what you want or demand. What you do not give first you will not receive except as charity, however much you expect or insist otherwise. When you do the right things in the right way, the Creator’s loving touch and generosity can be seen everywhere. In far more instances than the exceptions, good things happen to people who do good things for others. That is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Good deeds reproduce good deeds. Good will responds to good will. Kind words are the response from kind words. Generosity creates gratitude. Conversely, inappropriate actions or unworthy attitudes result in a similar return. Be an example, a good one. Whatever you expect of others, demand even more of yourself. You are wise to heed the warning of God’s Word, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

Life is not as you deem it to be, or wish that it were. Life is established on God’s terms, and works accordingly. You might muscle your will and way for a while, but inevitably and ultimately life works the way the Creator determined it should. As in the beginning, God has spoken over His creation, “Let there be, and there was.” That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be. God established eternal laws and principles by which His world works.

Foolishly and to minimal or temporary effect, you and I may try to force life to work the way we would prefer, but all efforts which are contrary to His Word, will, and wisdom, are eventually to little avail. Your lasting success, enduring satisfaction, and eternal reward depend on your learning God’s ways and cooperating with those. Isaiah was clear when He echoed God’s declaration, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways..’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV. It is foolish pride to think that any of us are wiser than God, even in the matters of our own daily life.

Jesus stated the truth simply, practically, and clearly. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV. That has often been referred to as the Golden Rule. The principle of return works for your good or to your loss, depending on how you choose to cooperate with its practical truth. “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

And Jesus identifies Himself with others,“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45 NIV. Our regard, or lack of regard, for others impacts what God is able to do for us. That too is the Law of Return. God’s Word is true and His provision is unfailing, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

My prayer for you and those who follow your example is, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord.” Psalm 115:14-15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for your life to abound with God’s grace and benevolence.

Christian Communications 2018

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Gratitude and Thankfulness

November 22nd, 2017

Thanksgiving is the language of gratitude.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.” Psalm 95:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Gratitude and Thankfulness”

Thanksgiving is the language of gratitude. God loves a grateful, thankful heart. I think those two words of similar meaning can be distinguished in this way. Gratitude is a noble attitude just as thankfulness is a worthy practice. Gratitude is the emotion experienced. Thankfulness is that emotion expressed. The covert emotion of gratitude is tangibly expressed in the simplicity of overt thankfulness. Stated more simply, gratitude displays its joyful heart with a thankful lifestyle. Gratitude is so much more than an emotion of a moment. Thanksgiving is the lifestyle of expressing sincere and heartfelt gratitude to God and others.

Why would we not be thankful? Paul’s question to the Christians at Corinth is relevant, “Who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV. Boasting in what you have denies the charity of the gift from God and your responsibility to reflect the same to others. Humility, thankfulness, and generosity are always very much in order.

As each new day dawns, your God offers the abounding blessings of a new beginning, an amazing grace, a true forgiveness, an uplifting encouragement, a fresh hope, a strong faith, a real joy, and more than adequate strength to successfully meet whatever challenge the day requires. “As your day, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25 NKJV. I have long found strength and encouragement by the promise within that remarkable verse. His strength to you is in proportion to what the day requires of you.

This week in our nation, we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. For many that day will be little more than a festive holiday, a day for family and friends to gather for a holiday meal, with side dishes and desserts of every description. But such a day should also be a thankful remembrance of the faithfulness of God, the fellowship of family and friends, and your gratitude for God’s providence throughout the year behind and ahead. We have so much for which to be thankful and His invitation to experience more. Read Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Solomon wisely observed, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV. There is no end to God’s mercies, no limit to His grace, and no measure of His goodness. Therefore, “Continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV. Overflowing with thankfulness!

This season of Thanksgiving, look past your present struggles or previous challenges, whatever they have been or may be at the moment. Decide with the Psalmist David, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 NKJV. Praise always wins. In praise and blessing, you see the full brilliance of His grace, the abounding nature of His love, the generous supply of His daily provision, and your privilege to respond with thanksgiving to God. Read Psalm 95:2-3 NKJV. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NIV.

You will discover that you have more for which to be thankful than things about which to complain or regret. And life is best when you look past things distressing to all that is blessing. There is ample evidence of blessings that abound. Read 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 NKJV. The sincere giving of thanks is your fitting benediction for God’s goodness to you. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to make your life a resounding Amen to what God has spoken.

On a personal note:

Gayle and I wish you a Blessed Thanksgiving as you gather with family and friends to give thanks to God for His goodness and provision. We are thankful for you  and for the months or years that you ave been a part of the circle of readers of EveryDay Life. Your recommendation of EDL to your friends has helped us to reach a broadening circle of readers. And your kind emails of how God has used a specific devotional to brighten your day remains encouraging. This has been our 10th year of writing and publishing EDL. We are grateful to God for your partnership and encouragement . . . Blessings!  

Christian Communications 2017

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Choose Generosity

September 30th, 2016

Being charitable is a style of living more than an act of giving.

If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different?” Matthew 5:46 MSG.

My thoughts and comments today encourage you to “choose generosity.”

edl-pix-generosityBeing concerned for yourself and those nearest you is a natural response. But that omits those who have real needs but for which you feel little practical responsibility. Feeling compassionately toward family and friends is natural. You know them and feel comfortable with them and you know that they also care about you and your needs. It is only natural that you care about theirs. But what about the needs of those you don’t know well or more likely do not know at all?

Jesus challenged His followers this way, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there in that? If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? But you are to be . . as your Father in Heaven is . .” Matthew 5:46-48. The needs of others, and their inadequacy to provide those, present a challenge in your lifestyle of charity and generosity. At certain times of year, there are many requests by community organizations, “to remember those less fortunate,” and thankfully there is usually a broad response to such appeals. But people’s needs are not limited only to such times.

The transience of people and vast metropolitan areas complicate a previous generations’ social inclination for neighbors helping neighbors. Many families know their neighbors little more than anyone else. Sadly, we have become a community of strangers without the old fashioned sense of community. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by people’s needs, becoming paralyzed by helplessness when exposed to the vast scale and scope of world needs from social and global media. But God’s Word remains true. “How blessed is he who considers the helpless.” Psalm 41:1 NAS.

I remember being told, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” Touching hearts and changing lives begins when even one heart acts compassionately. Consideration precedes compassion; compassion prompts contribution. There is a small rhyme that I learned many years ago that seems appropriate to my thoughts today; “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do; and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” Being charitable is a style of living before it becomes an act of giving. Charity and generosity becomes a lifestyle. Consider 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV. Living charitably is more than giving money.

Generosity can be expressed by an encouraging word, a helping hand, a kind gesture, or a bit of time and companionship. Becoming generous with your time and self makes sacrificing more practical things happen more easily. “Christ sacrificed His life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially . . and not just be about ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears and you made it disappear. Let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. Read 1 John 3:16-18 MSG. Charity and generosity really is about lifestyle, isn’t it?

Today, I pray for you to make your lifestyle a little more like Jesus.

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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

Generosity

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