Giving and receiving

If you give freely and generously of your time and money, what can you expect to receive in return? Should you expect anything at all?

One of the popular doctrines shared widely on television teaches that if you sow a gift (i.e., give money to a “ministry”) you will reap far more more money in return. Is that our hope?

Jesus does teach that if we give ourselves to him that the basic needs in life will be met (Matthew 6:25-34). But what of comfort and riches? If we give money to God should we expect more in return? The real story of giving and receiving is far richer, far deeper, and far more meaningful.

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A little with the Lord

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it (Proverbs 15:16 ESV).

One of the recurring themes throughout the Proverbs is that peace, righteousness, and the fear of the Jehovah are far superior to wealth. With so much glorification of gain, this is definitely a counter-culture mindset.

It is implicit in almost every culture that those who have are more important than those who do not. Those who have fame are better than those who are unknown. Those who are rich are better than those who are poor. Those who are talented in a visible way are better than those whose talents exhibit themselves in more modest ways. Privation is seen as a character flaw and possession is seen as proof of a superior person. Continue reading “A little with the Lord”

Worshiping intentionally

The Lord’s church met one Lord’s day in a grand city in Greece. They sang together, prayed together, opened the word together, and did not commune together.

Paul told them, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat” (1 Corinthians 11:20 ESV). The first-century church came together every week in order to eat the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2). How is it that Paul could say that they did not eat the Lord’s supper when they gathered?

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Who is your life?

We are all seeking something. Some seek after affirmation, others after wealth, power, or prestige. Still others are seeking simpler things, such as daily food and clothing. Whatever we seek, it has the power to become our lives, to consume us entirely.

Knowing this, Jesus instructed those who would follow him to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). If you are like me, you probably read that with an emphasis upon the word “first.” We say we are to seek FIRST the reign and righteousness of God. Thus leaving the impression that God’s reign and righteousness are first among almost equals.

But the emphasis is not found in the order but in the object. The seeking of God’s reign and righteousness, in contrast to that of the Pharisees seeking their own (Matt. 5:20), should be stressed.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Each society has proverbs, pithy statements that may or may not contain some general truth. Some are more useful than others. “All that glitters is not gold” and “two wrongs don’t make a right” seem particularly useful in today’s society. One of the more popular proverbs is “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But is that true?

Perhaps it is true in an extremely limited sense. Short periods of absence could cause one to realize how much another means to them. However, as a general rule, can we say that absence makes the heart grow fonder?

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The Inescapable power of choice

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV).

This choice, presented thousands of years ago to a nascent nation about to enter an unknown land, is still ours today.

God has always given us choices. We can choose between that which is of God and that which is of the world (Joshua 24:15-22). We can choose the way of faithfulness (Psalm 119:30) or the way of darkness. We can choose the better, timelier things (Luke 10:42) or be allured by lesser, flashier things (Genesis 13:11).

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Drawn or Driven

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:32 ESV).

God desires to draw us to himself. As a host invites guests to a party (Luke 14:16-24), and as a shepherd leads his sheep (John 10:1-4), God invites us to join him in the kingdom and to follow Jesus through a life of personal growth and Divine glory.

We may be inexorably drawn to that which is beautiful, to that which is unique, to that which is lovely. While Jesus is all of that and more, God desires to draw us to the crucified Jesus. The drawing power Jesus refers to is his death upon the cross (John 12:33).

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Moving with purpose

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 ESV).

Our world has increasingly become more sedentary. These sedentary lifestyles contribute to millions of deaths every year. People who can move, and do not, are not healthy. So many health officials recommend moving. Move anywhere as long as you are not sitting.

We were not created for physical inactivity. Nor were we reborn for spiritual inactivity. In the early days the church was referred to as “The Way” (Acts 24:14). The Christian life is called a walk (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6, et al.) and a race (Hebrews 12:1). Continue reading “Moving with purpose”

The Value of vision

Have you ever bumped your toe, banged your knee, or walked into a wall? I’m not talking about pain that comes from being a walking phone-zombie, but rather from the blindness that comes about from walking in the dark. Walking without sight presents great challenges. Those with good eyesight only experience those challenges rarely. But those experiences provide great lessons for us. It should not surprise us that God uses the physical realities of blindness to teach far more important spiritual lessons.

Jesus healed the physically blind as proof that he could give sight to those who were spiritually blind (John 9:1-7). The blind receiving their sight was one of the signs demonstrating he was the Messiah (Luke 7:22).

Jesus is the light of the world (John 1:5-9; 8:12). He came to shine light into the darkness (John 12:46), so that we might see where we are going (John 12:35), and not stumble (John 11:10). Continue reading “The Value of vision”

The Power of the resurrection in daily life

When Jesus went to the cross, it marked the lowest point in world history. From his disciples’ point of view, the unthinkable had occurred, their Messiah had failed. The question that John’s disciples had asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another” (Matthew 11:3 ESV) must have seemed quite prescient. The darkness that covered the earth must have been felt in every heart that believed in this great man.

What seemed like defeat from a human perspective was truly God’s greatest victory. The cross was the fulfillment of prophecy (see Genesis 3:15). While it seemed like Satan had delivered the death blow, it was God’s plan all along (see Revelation 13:8 MLV, YLT), and Jesus always possessed the power to offer up or withhold his life (John 10:17, 18). Like the mystery of the unity of the Jew and Gentile prophesied in the Old Testament, this victory was not seen by man until God revealed it in the resurrection.

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