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It is Better to Receive than to Give

Quote:  As God loveth a cheerful giver, so He loveth a cheerful taker who takes hold on His gifts with a glad heart.

John Donne

Biblical Illumination:  Ps. 37: 4  Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Plain Talk:  You heard it said many times, “God loves a cheerful giver.” This is the marque spirit of the Christian faith, which demonstrates the essence of Jesus’ ministry (2 Cor 9:7). This phrase has been stated in an array of stories and themes; stories we have often expressed to our children and grandchildren. Why? Because this spirit of service is commanded, expected, and desired of us. The more one gives, the greater the fulfillment and contentment of that soul. God has designed us to be just like Him, and that service to our fellow man opens the spirit of Jesus within us. Everything He (Jesus) did was for the well being of His sheep (christians) (John 10:11).

Yet, the quote above by John Donne, contradicts everything Jesus stood for, right? No, it doesn’t, if you understand what John is saying. First, he doesn’t say not to serve, but to be a servant one must become like the Master.  And, becoming like the Master means, I humbly receive His wonderful gifts-Holy spirit, salvation, and His precious Word.  That may seem easy, but receiving for most people is more difficult than giving.

Let me give you an everyday example you can relate too: You go out to dinner and the person you’re with volunteers to pay for the meal. You immediately go into full defense and object and say “Absolutely not, I’ll not have none of that, I’ll pay for my own, or no I’ll pay for yours.”  You continue to say,  “Just stop and let me pay.”  Well, they win on a technical knockout, and you at least compromise and pay for the tip. Ahh, all better now, you say to yourself, almost had to humble myself and let them pay for it all.  Sound familiar? Of course, we naturally don’t want to show weakness and helplessness in any manner. We have been told it is better to give than receive.

Unfortunately, that is how we are with the grace and gifts of our Lord. We want to emphasize our works and show everybody how we really don’t need all that grace and gifts, only what we think is best. That individual is missing out on God’s love and sacrifice. They don’t understand that to inherit the gifts of God one must be in the receiving mode. Humble persons take as well as give.  Let’s do more taking of God’s Son and when we are filled to the brim of His grace, let’s get out there and be sure to share with others what we have taken.  But, of course, always be willing to receive with a humble heart those wonderful friendships in which God has bestowed upon our lives as well as reap the truly magnificent rewards this life has to offer.

Grace & Peace,

Gary

I Believe, I Believe, I Believe

Quote:  “Believe something and the universe is on its way to being changed.  Because you’ve changed, by believing.  Once you’ve changed, other things start to follow.  Isn’t that the way it works?  Diane Duane (author)

Biblical Illumination:   Mark 9:23

Plain Talk:   Jesus stated that, “All things are possible to him who believes.”  The power of belief cannot be understated or shackled in the prisons of our minds if we are to unleash the great power of God.  The woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years, had this faith and was immediately healed by herbelief in Jesus’ power (Luke 8:43-47).  Jarius, a synagogue official, had a daughter and entreated Jesus to heal her, but as he was pleading his request to our Lord, someone asked him not to bother the lord any longer.  Unfortunately, his daughter died, but Jesus said ‘only believe” (Luke 8:50). Jesus stated do not fear, as she will come back to life.  Many believe the power of belief is reserved for the greats of the faith, and not feasible for the ordinary Christian.  Most have never tasted this kind of faith that we read about in the New Testament, as it was a first century event, not to be repeated (Hebrew 2:3).  Yes, the supernatural power of Jesus was a one-time event, but the power of faith is eternal and at our finger tips.  But how can one have such belief?

 We know with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1: 37).  The God we serve, has brought us into His family through the blood of His son (Romans 5:8; John 1:12-13). He has promised us by His Word through His Spirit that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:14ff). So, how can we experience this magnificent glory?  Here are several steps that will help open the door to this abundant realm of belief:

 First, we have to have a desire to serve the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul. And, we need to be reminded that God demands that we walk by faith and accomplish His will here on earth (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is really a command that God requires we live by and do the sometimes extremely difficult task of preaching the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord ( I Corinthians 15:1-5) to a world that does not understand this power over death ( I Cor. 1:18).  And, this power over death may be considered foolishness to those who do not believe.

  Second, “You are what you think all day long.”  A simple statement, but so enlightening and magical in its scope.  Our belief is based in this statement.  It is its lasting foundation, its continuation, its stability, and its continuity.  In Proverbs, the writer says as a man believes so is he.  God has designed us to become what we dwell upon day and night.  Paul said in Colossians 3:16 that the Word is to dwell inside each child of God.  Now, if I spend my day complaining, doubting, negatively looking at life, seeing obstacles instead of opportunities, angrily communicating with those around me, gossiping about others, speaking malice, hatred, and well… you get the idea. Then that is what I will become- a person of who lives a life of unbelief.

 Third, we need to use repetition so our faith will grow and strengthen; not only in thought but in action.  If we take 30 minutes each day to announce to God through His spirit that I believe over and over and over again, what will happen?   We are imprinting this statement in our hearts and minds.   If we will take this challenge, and faithfully verbalize that I believe, then our attitude and outlook will be strengthened and conditioned in our subconscious.   We will be encouraging and permitting the Word to dwell in our hearts and minds.  Soon we will believe the impossible and then we will now say, I believe, I believe, I believe, no matter the time of day, the place we find ourselves, or even the circumstance find we are facing.  There will be no doubt.   Moreover, by stating it with conviction, we will become what we say and think. And, with the Holy Spirit empowering us, we will change the world and most importantly we will change ourselves, because God can do the impossible with our belief.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, We pray our belief will be empowered each and every day.  Please help us to have the conviction to the world and you, God, who we strive to serve that our belief is real and invincible.

Grace & Peace,

Gary

A Carol Worth Repeating

Quotation:  “Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens

Biblical Illumination: James 4: 4-6

Plain Talk:  Charles Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol” is an enduring and timeless story; a story which needs repeating throughout the year. Mankind’s need for love, forgiveness, kindness, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is a theme entwined throughout this classic.  The main character Scrooge is a lost soul of self-righteousness; as” hard as flint” and “solitary as an oyster”.  The story is infused with the Spirit of Jesus without really mentioning the plan of salvation or the details of the Christian faith. But, there is an ever-present knowledge; without Christ, Scrooge would be a doomed soul, and mankind would be better off without the tight fisted Scrooge who worships money more than the goodness of life.

His transformation happens in one night as the three spirits of past, present, and future reveals his cruel and heartless soul which embodies his entire being. Scrooge eventually sees the light. And, in the end, becomes a man of kindness, humility, and love for the poor and less- fortunate. Tiny Tim is one such less- fortunate individual with whom Scrooge extolls love and compassion to. Scrooge is a changed man because his heart opened wide to the love, graciousness, and mercy of God.

Now, most people do not see themselves like Scrooge, but in reality we all need a new heart and spirit each and every day. Jesus came that we may have life; a life of renewal, and a life of service to our fellow man.  And, most importantly, a life of service to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus wanted nothing more than to please the Father. Jesus desires us to follow His example (John 13). Christians are commanded to serve others, and to help lost souls find the light; the saving light of the gospel (Acts 2).  A self-righteous, selfish, or self-centered individual cannot be about the Father’s business. This is a person only interested in the love of the world (I John 2:15-18). Man’s renewal happens in our regeneration (Titus 3:5), which is the change that Jesus promises to all who take on his Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

Without this life-giving transformation, we are “bah humbug” and lonely lost “Scrooges” wondering this earth.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I pray that I will have a daily renewal of mind, heart, and actions which lead me to serve You and my fellow man.  Blot out my iniquities as I strive to live a life of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”( Galatians 5: 22-23)

The Touch of God

Quotation: “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is the finger of God on our shoulder.”

Margaret Kennedy

 Biblical Illumination:  Luke 10:25-37 (Story of the Good Samaritan)

 Plain Talk:  The love of Jesus not only touches our minds, but deeply penetrates the heart of the believer. So, the heart of the believer, in turn, demonstrates the love of Jesus to those who need love. God’s touch is profoundly understood when our actions may surprise ourselves, but more importantly, do not surprise those in the world who expect love from Christians. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan, and all those who passed by the man in need?  But, who stopped to help the person in need? A Samaritan; an individual who was looked upon with disdain. All those whom we expected to stop and aid the man refused to stop. God dramatically demonstrates to us, through this heart wrenching story, His expectations for us as Christians. He desires His children to be “good Samaritans“. If we take on the name, Christian; child of God, we are to take on the movements, actions, and cares of Christ. God uses ordinary and everyday Christians here on earth to accomplish His will. Jesus said you will know them by their love one for another. No greater Love there is but to help those who are hurting, seeking, and knocking at the door of heaven with petitions to be granted. The greatest joy is not only in the recipient of love, but to those giving the love of God. It truly is magical and heartwarming to touch a lost soul through the life-giving gospel.  It gives comfort to those who have experienced loss, feeds those who are famished; builds a house for those without shelter; or uplifts a soul in despair. Yes, the touch of God is truly a spiritual magical surprise; a gift from heaven itself which has no equal on earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as you give us unexpected love in our lives, may we, as well, pass this endearing love on to those who need the touch of your grace and adoration.

“Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.”
Charles Dickens

The Reward of Humility

Quotation: “Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.”

Charles Dickens

Biblical Illumination: (CEV) Matthew 6:1 “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven”

 Plain Talk: Dickens’ quote inspires us to a higher human kindness without tooting our own horn. The journey of the child of God is one of praise and thanksgiving to our Lord, and is not a path for our own adulation. When we are about the Father’s business, as in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we have no time or need for verbal recognition or accolades. Most important, is our knowledge that we are about the Christian’s daily deeds and are committed to pleasing our Lord. We are confident our reward will be eternal life with God in heaven. Unless a grain of wheat dies, it cannot bear fruit (John 12: 24). Translation, die to self before we can love and help others. Others’ needs must be the priority before our own. This lofty spirituality is academic for most, but not too lofty as it is commanded by Christ (I John 3: 16). The practice of feet washing is foreign to many; an example left by our Lord and Savior (John 13). Another example of actions speaks louder than words!

Prayer: Lord, our praise and thanksgiving for your humble yet serving life is constantly on our lips in prayer.  The life that you lived and demonstrated in your brief walk here on earth is our quest as we follow you by unpretentiously helping and comforting others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Supremacy of God’s Love-Jesus

 

Quotation: “Would you know life abundant, Love doubled for all you give?   There is a means no surer, than helping someone to live.”  Ellen H. Jones

 Biblical Illumination: I Corinthians 9:19-22

Plain Talk: There are literally thousands and thousands of books on how to attain happiness, joy, peace, and love. In these books, there are theories on how individuals can become what they always wanted to become; by understanding human behavior through psychology and human systems. This information has controlled and put out misinformation that undermines and marginalizes the Word of God. With that said, the love of our Lord is what defines the church of our Lord. Love is attainable and liberating to those who put it into practice.The true prescription is what Ellen Jones has stated, that love is discovered by serving our fellow human beings in need (I John 3:9-10, 25-24). The love of God is a command and must be obeyed to experience its heavenly power. Love is not self-centered but communal by serving the needs and cares of our fellow man. Because we live in a society that is narcissistic and glories in its idols through education, science, entertainment, and corporations, a beast of deception has wreaked havoc.  This beast of deception, Satan, has and continues to inflict woeful consequences in our society.  One such result is drug abuse; an epidemic with over 40,000 deaths last year; mainly from heroin as it has spread in all communities and persons.  Depression is also an epidemic malady which has affected so many individuals. People are being lead down the wrong road to destruction by those who do not have those individuals’ interests at heart.

Jesus came to serve and redeem mankind from darkness and open the door to eternal life by giving Himself through a cruel and horrible death. The death of Jesus was the greatest demonstration of love. His love for us is beyond human understanding. Nobody of such nobility and kingship would ever go through what our Lord did, unless his love was absolute and unconditional. But here is the point of this writing, when we put into practice this love of Jesus, we then will start understanding this supreme love.

How can we attain such love in our lives? By considering the needs and concerns of others first. Is that natural to think of others as better than ourselves? Absolutely not! Not natural at all. Satan knows this and will go to any lengths so we forget about the command of love and service to our neighbor. Yet, the freedom of the kingdom is within our grasp, if we will obey and allow Jesus to do our molding and instruction. He knows the difficulty we face and has promised to give us the Spirit as a helper in this battle we fight every day (Galatians 5:22-23).

The abundant life is possible, if we will make ourselves available to the Lord and follow His road map-The Bible- to experience inner peace, happiness, joy, and love. Our talk and walk are not of this world, and when we act and portray a worldly standard we hurt the church and ourselves. The greatest book ever written is the Bible. Unfortunately, we think man has the answers to our needs, but the creator has the answers. Never forget it, and don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Prayer: Father, may we open our lives to the love of Jesus, be ready and willing to demonstrate the love of God, and experience the abundant life You have promised through Your Word.

Grace & Peace, Gary