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Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

generosity“Tis more blessed to give than to receive” is a nice saying, a comforting thought, and even found in scripture. The reality is, however, during those times when we are completely honest with ourselves, we admit it’s easier to live by the adage, “It’s far better to receive than
it is to give.”

There’s ‘good reason’ for that of course. We all know the horror stories of people who have taken advantage of the system. These are the ones that feel they are entitled, for a variety of reasons, to a free ride. They make constant excuses for the way they are and fail to take responsibility for the condition they are in.

It’s amazing to me that some of the stingiest people are those who claim to follow Christ. They put qualifications on their giving such as economic need, church background, race, sexual orientation and the list goes on. It seems we are afraid we may be taken advantage of, or that someone may get something they don’t deserve.

It’s a complex issue with no easy answers I suppose, but I think the question of generosity can be summed up in our response to two concepts that Jesus himself taught. The first of these is ownership, in other words, who owns what you have? The Psalmist states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” (Psalm 24:1) If that verse is true (insert sarcasm here) then we need to realize that the car you are still making payments on isn’t yours. Never has been, never will be. There doesn’t seem to be much vacillation in the word ‘everything’. One may argue that we are called to be good stewards of all that is given us and that’s true. But do we refuse to give out of stewardship or greed?

The second issue that keeps us from being generous is simplicity. Especially for those of us in the United States, we like to be comfortable and we like to have the latest toys. (insert my own guilt in this regard here). It’s interesting that Jesus seems to call each of us to homelessness in Matthew 8:20 when someone says they will follow him anywhere (discipleship) and he responds by saying “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

The point is this. Are we willing to give from our surplus or sacrificially? I’m not just about money, I’m talking about our gifts, our talents, the fruit of the Spirit (you know, that whole love, joy, peace thing). There are lonely people all around us. Many would just love to get a smile, a hug, a visit, a card in the mailbox.

Jesus didn’t win people over by his great sermons. The New Testament Church didn’t turn the world upside down by placing requirements on who could join. How can you and I give in a way that will change someone’s world?

PRAYER: Father, I confess that I’m far more willing to give of my excess than to give sacrificially. I’ve grown far too comfortable from the many blessings you’ve given me. Help me to see those in need around me and empower me to do what you can to make a difference in their lives. Amen.


When the Lord saw their change of heart, he gave this message to Shemaiah: “Since the people have humbled themselves, I will not completely destroy them and will soon give them some relief. I will not use Shishak to pour out my anger on Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 12:7

“I know it’s wrong but God will forgive me and I’ll be okay.”

I freely admit, I’m guilty of it myself at times. Somehow though, when I hear other people say it, it’s more ominous than when I say it myself. Yeah, I know, that’s a pretty shabby defense. Somehow, those of us who call ourselves believers buy into the lie however. We give our allegiance to Jesus. We proclaim his love, grace and mercy. We ‘take a stand against evil’ in our world, yet think nothing of doing little, unimportant  sins on a daily basis. You know the ones I mean. Our cursing, swearing, judgmental attitudes, the harboring of anger, bitterness or guilt and our greed are all displeasing to our heavenly Father.

Sometimes we assume that God’s forgiveness will remove us from the consequences of that sin, but nowhere in scripture is that the case. Israel, God’s chosen people, constantly strayed from his law and suffered the consequences for it. The story in 2 Chronicles is an example of that. King Rehoboam lived a sinful life and the people followed his example shamelessly right up until the Egyptian army was knocking on their door.

When the leadership saw that God’s punishment was imminent the repented of their sin. The Bible says they did more than ‘pray about it’. It was a change of heart. As a result God saved the nation from extinction. However, he didn’t completely remove the consequences of their behavior.

2 Chronicles 12:8 tells us that although God held back total destruction “… they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.”

God promises to forgive our guilt but sometimes He lets us endure consequences to teach us to rely on him. While we are blessed with the promise of forgiveness and eternity with Jesus, we should never take sin of any kind be taken lightly. Remember, the ground may be level under the cross, but there are no ‘little‘ sins. All sin should be taken very seriously in our lives.

PRAYER: Father God. My own words convict me as I’m aware of my tendency to diminish my sin in view of the sin of others. Forgive me for taking sin lightly and help me live in holiness before you by the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen.


But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:31

Ever noticed how those info-mercials on TV make their particular product so inviting? “If you call now you’ll not only get the original item, they’ll throw in something else. But wait! There’s more. Call within a certain amount of time and they will give you a free give valued at some fantastic amount!”

The company attempts to paint a picture for you. First of all, you NEED this product in order to make life bearable. Secondly, if you purchase this product they will do you a huge favor by giving you much more than what you originally asked for. It’s a deal that simply can’t be passed up!

I’m not trying to cheapen life as a Christ-follower when I say this, but in a sense, living for Christ is like the ultimate info-mercial. Think about it for a moment. Here we are, a bunch of rebellious, self-centered, angry, doubting human beings just looking for things our way. It all started in a garden with a perfect climate, and two people who were physically, spiritually and emotionally naked. They had all God could give them yet they chose to rebel.

God said, I know what I’ll do. I’ll send my only son, my beloved son to die a cruel death on a tree. I’ll watch from heaven as they take my ‘little boy’ and strip him naked, beat him so badly that I won’t even recognize him and finally brutally murder him on a tree. They’ll even have the audacity to say they are doing this horrible thing in my name!

But wait! There’s more. Not only will I let them do this to my son, I’ll forgive their sin. Wipe it out completely. No penalty. No condemnation! Then, I’ll send my very own Spirit to live within them. He’ll guide them, show them the way to salvation, and administer grace and strength in their weakest moment.

Oh, I know they’ll fail. Some will fail over and over again. But if they repent and come back to me, I’ll forgive them and make things right between us once more.

But wait, there’s more! While they are struggling along the path of life, I’ll be preparing a place for them so that once their time on earth is complete they can come to spend all of eternity with me.

Too good to believe? It is to me too. But it’s true. God doesn’t just give us what we need. Our Heavenly Father gives us far more than we ask for. All he asks from each of us it to confess our sin, and invite Christ to be the Lord of our lives.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank and praise you for your wonderful gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. You not only have given me forgiveness. You have given me freedom to be all I can be and a promised hope of eternity with you. Empower me by your Spirit to live daily for you and not myself. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 


When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

Jesus had just received word that his cousin John had been brutally murdered by an evil King who was motivated by the jealous actions of his wife. We must never forget, when we read Bible passages, that these are real events in the lives of real people. What we read in the Bible are not just stories and fairy tales. The people involved had real feelings, got hungry, were lied to by friends, had financial hardship, got sick and all the other things you and me experience on an emotional plain.

Jesus was just a few months younger than John and I would imagine that even though they lived a distance apart, they saw each other often because Mary, Jesus’ mom, and Elizabeth, John’s mom, were very close.

Because of this you can well imagine the heartache and perhaps anger that Jesus felt when the word came to him. There was nothing fair about what happened to John. There was no justice in the palace. Only greed and power driven lust.

When the disciples returned from a preaching journey, Jesus suggested they get away and rest for awhile. He needed some time to mourn. They needed some time to rest from the rigors of ministry. Just a few days, maybe even a few hours.

We all know the feeling. Life gets so hectic. Things that hurt or disappoint us come and go with such haste that we barely have time to rest, time to think, time to mourn. The old adage ‘when it rains it pours’ is often very true. Calamity always seems to bring company.

They went to a quiet, solitary spot that Jesus and his disciples had visited before. It was on the far side of the lake, far from people, far from the hustle and bustle of life. But by the time they got there, word had spread of their approach. Rather than being met by a quiet spot by the lake, they were greeted by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in need of Jesus’ touch.

He was tired. He was emotionally spent. He had compassion. Did you notice that? In the midst of Jesus’ despair and fatigue he had compassion on those who need his touch. Couldn’t it wait one day? Was anything so important that he had to be interrupted? Didn’t they realize that he had feelings too?

If you are ever up against the wall. If life seems to have put more on your plate than you can possibly handle. When people fail you (or you fail people). Remember this day in Jesus life. There is never a time when he is too tired or too distracted or too involved in other issues that he doesn’t have time for you.

Jesus will always have time for you regardless of how many times you come to him. Never let the enemy tell you otherwise.

PRAYER: Jesus, I thank you today for your love and compassion. I praise you for the truth that no matter what comes my way, you will always be there for me. Always willing to comfort, to guide, to forgive and to show compassion to me. Empower me by your Spirit to be able to rest in the comfort of your arms. In your name I pray, Amen.

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