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Your Clock and God’s Calendars

September 23rd, 2016

Our clocks do not often match God’s calendar.

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“No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments are about your clock and God’s calendar.”

I think anyone who knows God fully believes this truth: “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly.” A loving and giving God would not choose to withhold what is good. The problem lies in determining what is good for you. God promises to provide what He deems good for His purposes in your life and at the time He knows will be best.

The most bountiful giving can never impoverish God. God is no poorer for however much He gives. With our limited resources, you and I might desire to give what another needs, yet lack the ability to do so, but that certainly is not true of God. God has desire, capacity, and ability to give. And His gifts will be, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” Luke 6:38 NIV.

Describing a child asking their father for good things, Jesus explained, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? . . If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Read Matthew 7:7-11 NIV. In Jesus examples, a son was asking what the father desired to give – good things.

There are times when life seems to trample on the truth. Painful realities intrude into daily life, and even worse, they linger longer than you feel you can bear. Most people can manage slight pain for a lengthy time, or even severe pain briefly, but who can bear the greatest of pain for the longest of time? Our clocks do not often match His calendar. Pain and delay challenge your belief until you cry out, “Where are the good gifts the father gives . . where is the good thing God will not withhold?”

The Apostle Paul wrestled with that kind of physical and emotional pain from an undescribed, “thorn in the flesh,” and physically languished in a Roman prison, while what would appear to any of us as being “a good thing” seemed to be withheld. The answer Paul received is also God’s answer to you and me, “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” See 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NKJV. God’s abiding and abundant grace will be far better than momentary relief. Confidently, Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV. I want to live with undoubting confidence and tenacious faith.

Here’s the challenge. When the real need of your moment remains unmet too long, you will wonder or ask why. The unwanted, unanswered question will press its way into your thoughts. Emotionally, there is a progression from wondering how your need will be met to worrying if and when the need will be met. Your heart knows God will provide, but you struggle when you don’t know when.

Those questions are emotionally difficult when God appears to remain silent. There is only one answer for the times in life when all you know about God doesn’t match the reality you are presently experiencing. We measure life by moments, minutes, and hours; God measures our lives by eternity. That’s when you must look up into the face of a loving and gracious God and say with all your heart, “My times are in your hands!” Psalm 31:15 NIV. Know this; either God has something far better when you would settle for less right now, or your need is not what you really need at that moment. When you don’t know when, God does. He is always on time, never late. He is ever gracious and giving.

Today, I pray for you to be sure your clock and God’s calendar agree.

Christian Communications 2016

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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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To Give Is To Grow

March 18th, 2016

Whenever you have the opportunity, you should do good to everyone.”  Galatians 6:11.

 Helping others benefits you and blesses them.  

My thoughts and comments today are that, “to give is to grow.”

Everyone has a selfish moment when you think, “Why should I help?” Here are some answers to help when you feel like just taking care of yourself. Helping others makes life easier, every task lighter, and any heart happier.

First in importance, God says to do so. The Bible is explicit. “Whenever you have the opportunity, you should do good to everyone, especially to your Christian brothers and sisters.” Galatians 6:11. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Proverbs 3:27 NKJV.

God has given you what someone else needs. “Be generous with the different things that God gave you, passing them around so all can get in on it.” Read 1 Peter 4:8-11 MSG. As was said of the turtle on top of a fence post, “He didn’t get there without a little help from somebody.” Wherever you are and whatever you achieve, you received a little help from someone. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely also give.” Matthew 10:8 NKJV.

 You will be blessed in the giving. So don’t hesitate. “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. Never discount the value of God’s blessing. His blessing multiplies your success and compounds your enjoyment of that.

You will accomplish more with God’s blessing than without. Apart from God, success may come with a measure of regret. “The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22. Not everything that looks like a blessing is, if you can’t find God there.

You will feel better about yourself. That is not as small a thing as it might first appear. There is enough about life and our common frailty that doesn’t always leave you feeling good about yourself. There is great benefit from seizing every opportunity to do good for others, releasing an inner sense of self-satisfaction and well-being.

Obedience is its own reward. Growth is the goal. When you lend a helping hand, everyone grows a little, and you will grow a lot. Helping others benefits you and blesses them.

Today, I pray for you to learn that you grow only when you help others to grow.

Christian Communications 2016 10107

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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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Christmas Gifts

December 23rd, 2014

“Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT.

Giving that is meaningful is inseparably sourced in love that is authentic.

My thoughts and comments this Advent are about “Christmas gifts.”

Christmas gift giving is an art form with some people. Christmas is easier for people like my wife, Gayle; as Christmas approaches, she has already planned for family and friends and thought of the gifts most wanted and needed by them. Such people anticipate what best serves or delights the recipient. I admire people with such a talent. I don’t struggle with the act of giving; I find joy in that. Read 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NIV. I struggle to know what to give, unsure if my choice of gifts will be enjoyed, or appropriate, or best meet their need, or serve them well. My dilemma is finding a gift that expresses my love and appreciation adequately and accurately.

Christmas is such a special time of year. I love everything about celebrating Christmas – the wondrous Christmas story, times together with family and friends, the tree and decorations, the Nativity scenes, flickering candles and logs in the fireplace, Holly and wreaths, eggnog and sweets, Christmas choirs and carols, mistletoe, and, of course, beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. But none of those would mean anything apart from God’s greatest gift to you and me. Among all of God’s generous and gracious gifts, God’s greatest gift was given at Christmas.

Nativity reduced (2) Paul found the generosity and grace of God’s gift to be inexpressible, “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT. Christmas’ greatest Gift could not be described more beautifully or accurately. For some who decry the commercialization of Christmas, Christmas is only commercialized by those who overlook Christmas truth. Read James 1:17-18 NIV.

Christmas need not be separated from gift giving. The Wise men, “rejoiced with great joy . . and fell down and worshiped Him, opening their treasures they presented gifts to Him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11. Their gifts were costly but not extravagant, unusual but not inappropriate. Their love and joy would not let them do less. Those gifts expressed their hearts’ response to the far greater Gift – the promised and long awaited Messiah, who was the Son of God and would become the Savior of men. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV. Gift giving is appropriate to your celebration of Christmas.

As a boy, I heard my Dad often say, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Across the years, I find that true. Christmas is the testimony to that truth. Giving that is meaningful is inseparably sourced in love that is authentic. Love always prompts a generous response. The Good News that angels proclaimed to shepherds describes the perfect gift of which John later wrote, “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.” Read John 3:16-21 NIV.

The better you know the person to whom a gift is given, the more your gift will meet their need and bring them joy. God’s Christmas Gift responds exactly to His accurate estimate and adequate supply of your greatest needs. “The gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV. And His gift empowers, as well as obligates, each recipient of eternal life that, “we should use whatever gift [we] have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV.

My prayer for you this Advent is that you receive graciously from God and give generously to others.

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