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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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Hospitality

March 11th, 2013

“Be . . given to hospitality.” Romans 12:13 NKJV.

Hospitality begins with the room you make in your heart and life for others.

My wife, Gayle, has a gift in abundance – the gift of hospitality. She is the consummate hostess. What she does, she does because of her personal conviction that “nice matters.” When we built our house, the guest quarters were designed specifically for the comfort and enjoyment of our friends, private, comfortable, welcoming, and decorated in a classic English Manor decor. Our home is a place for family and friends to enjoy and find comfort.

When friends are coming, Gayle prepares especially for that particular guest, providing their favorite snacks, coffees, drinks, and fresh flowers – chocolates for Rick (Peeps if at Easter), flavored coffees for Thea, M&Ms for Andrew, or olives for Anita. She learns the likes of our friends and graciously hosts them with personal touches that esteem and serve them. Her gift begins in her generous heart, then finds expression in practical, personal ways.

Among an exemplary list of normal expressions of Christian conduct – without hypocrisy, kind affection, giving preference, diligent, fervent, serving, rejoicing, hopeful, patient, praying steadfastly, giving to others’ needs – Paul concludes, “Let love be . . given to hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 NKJV. Now who would expect “hospitality” to finish such a list of spiritual behaviors? Yet there it is, an expectation of everyday Christian life.

Hospitality is a significant, Biblical concept demonstrating real community – the fitting expression of spiritual fellowship that is so much more than social entertainment. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7 NIV. Biblical acceptance is inclusive, offered to others without constraint as God extends grace and acceptance to you through Jesus Christ, His Son and your Savior. See John 13:34-35 NIV.

Hospitality is the Godly sharing of who you are and what you have with others. “Therefore, as you have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NKJV. You have kindness to share, love to give, encouragement to offer, or a burden to bear.

Hospitality is the act of opening your heart to generously include others warmly and sincerely. I enjoy the Old Testament story of a “notable woman” in Shunem and her hospitality toward Elisha. Read 2 Kings 4:8-11 NKJV. She is notable in Scripture because she was “given to hospitality.” Recognizing that Elisha was a man of God, she and her husband built a room especially for the itinerant Elisha, “a place to stay whenever he comes by.” I see the quality of hospitality in her carefulness to provide all that her guest would require – a bed for rest, a table and chair for refreshment, and a lamp for light. Hospitality does not have to be extravagant; it will be practical and beneficial. True hospitality begins with the room you make in your heart and life for others.

Hospitality is the art of making others feel welcome and “at home.” Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you . . I will come again to receive you unto Myself that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-6 NKJV. A prepared place specifically for you, eternally. Now that’s Heaven’s hospitality.

My prayer for you today is that you relate to others with openness and acceptance.

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Overflowing Fullness

August 25th, 2010

“The Lord is my Shepherd . . my cup overflows with blessings.” Psalm 23:5 NLT

“Overflowing is the key to sharing; sharing is the key to overflowing even more!”

My thoughts today are about “overflowing fullness.”

How much is enough? That really depends, doesn’t it? That’s not an easy question to answer, actually. There are times in life when you will seem to have less than enough, and yet you will find God faithful and still manage to make do and get by. As a boy, I learned that from my Mom. Our family was of modest means, but never without. My Mom could do more with less than most people could do with more. I hope it’s a family trait.

More of the time you will have enough, not a lot to spare but nothing that you lack. Maybe those are the reasons that you will really enjoy the wonderful occasions when God gives you more than you earned and beyond what you need – a little extra to put away for the future, and a little bit to share. That sharing part is where you will find your greatest joy. Life at its best is not about what you get; it’s not about what you have; life in its fullness is about what you give.

If you never grow to that point, you will never have enough to enjoy, however much you have. Here’s what a wise King Solomon learned: “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 is in your overflowing cup? Indescribable joy! 1 Peter 1:18. Incredible peace! Philippians 4:7. Abounding grace! Romans 5:20 NKJV. Exceeding power! Ephesians 1:19-21/3:20. Abundant and eternal life! John 10:10. Overflowing with more than enough of everything!

The best lessons you will ever learn are the lessons that Jesus taught. Among them is the principle of giving and receiving. I think this principle is a life cycle that begins with receiving, but never ends as long as you perpetuate the cycle with your continuing liberality. Remember the cup that David describes as “overflowing with blessing?” If that overflow is not shared with intentionality and purpose, it becomes little more than extravagant and wasteful spillage, not doing you or anyone else any measurable good!

The blessings of God are for more than self-enrichment; you are equipped and entrusted with the means to supply what comes from God Who is the Source. The Bible says, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above . . He never changes or casts shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NLT.

Let’s be practical; you can’t give something that you don’t have. You have nothing to give except what you are given. Out of what you receive from God, usually through others, you are provided the means to share as God’s supply to others, as He directs. You plant in another’s life as someone planted into yours, and God honors such gifts with added increase.

Jesus promised, “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 continues a cycle of multiplication and harvest in your life, while beginning a cycle of blessing and giving in other lives.

My prayer for you is to have more than enough, and share that generously with others.

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Why They Call It Work

September 30th, 2009

Let him labor, working with his hands what is good.” Ephesians 4:28 NKJV

“Work is a joy when what you are doing and where you are doing so partners with God.”

My thoughts today are about “why they call it work.”

Work is not always that enjoyable, is it? That’s why they call it work! Whether it’s called homework, or housework, or just work, where you do it is called a workplace. A major part of your life will be engaged in work. When so much of your years will be work related, it seems it would be wisest to better understand that, and to make the best of those hours and years. It is amusing that teens cannot wait to get their first job and those same teens’ grandparents often cannot wait for their last one.

Have you ever wondered if work is somehow related to Adam and Eve’s sin in Eden? Let me try to clear that up. It is wrongly assumed that work became a part of the penalty for their disobedience. Reading what God said to Adam about “painful toil” and the “sweat of your brow,” it would be easy to think that God decided work would be just for Adam’s misdeed. Read Genesis 3:17-19 NIV.

But look a little closer in the preceding chapter and you will see that meaningful work was both a gift from God, and Adam’s anticipated response to the bounty into which God created and placed him. “The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 NIV. Yes, there is effort and sacrifice, and sometimes work just feels like – well, work! Work can be draining and difficult on many levels but consider this, there is also an element about your daily labor that is meant to be incredibly fulfilling and internally satisfying.

You were created to be productive, commanded to be fruitful, and you will not be fully content without that happening. “So God created man in His own image . . then God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion.'” Genesis 1:28 NKJV. You have a holy assignment, and it was not meant to be drudgery or punishment.

Your understanding of work changes when you dare to believe that what you are doing and where you are doing so is at the direction of your Heavenly Father and in partnership with Him. Let me address a couple of reasons why work is a blessed partnership. God wants to bless and abundantly reward your labor, “You will make your way prosperous, and then you will good success.” See Joshua 1:8 NIV/3 John 2 NIV. Maybe that’s why work is often called gainful employment.

Through your labor God wants to meet all your needs, and give you some to spare. “Let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” Ephesians 4:28 NKJV. Did you notice why God wants to give you some to spare? It is because God wants you to have your needs met and more, but not merely so you will have more and more than you need. Your Father wants to include you in His blessing plan of having something to share.

My prayer for you today is to know the joy that comes from serving God in your work.

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Sharing and Helping

August 25th, 2009

“Share each other’s troubles and problems.” Galatians 6:2 NLT

“Life is about sharing and helping, about unselfish consideration and kindness to others.”

My thoughts today are about “sharing and helping.”

There is a great story about a Special Olympics event. In a race, one of the Special Olympians stumbled and fell awkwardly. Within just a few steps further, everyone else stopped running and hurried back to help their fallen competitor. They didn’t have to stop to think about going back; they never considered not going back to help the fallen runner. They didn’t see him as a luckless competitor, but as a fallen comrade – a friend in need of their helping hands. Arm in arm, they completed the race together, apparently without regard to winning or losing.

They just did what was kind and helpful to someone just like themselves without thought or regard to who would win the race. Considering their own individual, physical challenges, I think they each identified with the one who fell, and instinctively knew how much they would need someone’s help. They lost a race, but taught all of us something important about life. It is not just about you. That incident seems to illustrate the simple, practical counsel that Jesus gave, “As you would that men would do unto you, do also to others.” So simple. No wonder generations have called that the Golden Rule.

Life is not all about winning; life is about sharing and helping – about kindness and unselfish consideration. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another . . contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:10/13 NASV. Imagine a community, a church, a marriage and family, or a friendship where everyone lived that way – a place where everybody is somebody and nobody is nobody!

I believe that it is as simple as putting yourself in another’s place, identifying yourself with them and their need, and then responding with understanding, kindness, and helpfulness. People are most helped by knowing someone notices and cares. See Philippians 2:3-4 NLT/ Galatians 6:10 NIV.

Though you cannot solve everyone’s problem, fix every situation, right every wrong, or meet every need, you can do something to help someone. Years ago, I learned a simple declaration I recommend to you. “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.” Any one can do something sometime to reach out helpfully to someone else.

Simply stated, you have been helped; you can help others. Pass it forward. “Give as freely as you have received.” Matthew 10:8 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you receive the help you need and give others all the help you can.

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