VIDEO Freely Given, Freely Give

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

A well-known quip says that you never see a hearse pulling a trailer. That is a modern paraphrase of Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:7: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” That truth is the basis for the Bible’s principle of generosity: Everything we have, we have been given. Therefore, we should be a channel, a conduit, of God’s grace and gifts to others.

That’s what Jesus told His disciples when He sent them out to minister in His name. Everything they were taking with them—the power to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons”—had been given to them to give to others: “Freely you have received, [therefore] freely give.” That lies at the heart of goodness and generosity in a godly life. Even King David recognized that God was the source of his wealth: “For all things come from You” (1 Chronicles 29:14). Therefore, he gave generously for the building of a temple for God in Jerusalem.

Look for opportunities today to be good, to be generous, to others. Whatever God has done for you, do for others in His name.

God is never less than generous, even when we are less than grateful.  John Blanchard

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An Encounter with Stones

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. Isaiah 53:5

After centuries of war and destruction, the modern city of Jerusalem is literally built on its own rubble. During a family visit, we walked the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrow), the route tradition says Jesus followed on His way to the cross. The day was hot, so we paused for a rest and descended to the cool basement of the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. There I was intrigued by the sight of ancient pavement stones unearthed during recent construction—stones etched with games played by Roman soldiers during their idle moments.

Those particular stones, even though likely from a period later than Jesus, caused me to ponder my spiritual life at the time. Like a bored soldier passing time in idle moments, I had become complacent and uncaring toward God and others. I was deeply moved by remembering that near the place I was standing, the Lord was beaten, mocked, insulted, and abused as He took all of my failure and rebellion on Himself.

Our sin is great—God’s grace is greater.

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).

My encounter with the stones still speaks to me of Jesus’s loving grace that is greater than all my sin.

Lord Jesus, through Your great sacrifice for us, we find forgiveness, healing, and hope. Thank You that we live today and forever in Your love.

Our sin is great—God’s grace is greater.

By David C. McCasland 

INSIGHT

In their context, few Old Testament prophecies of Jesus look like clear predictions. For the most part, it is only by reading backward that we can see how Jesus brought fullness of meaning to words that were mysterious in their own time. Yet when read in light of Jesus, these words can now be life-changing.

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant is an example of this. Many in Israel believed it was their own persecuted nation that was bearing the sins of the world. Only by looking back can people like us realize that “we” were the ones who unwittingly demanded the death of our own God and Savior (Zech. 12:10–14).

As hard as it is to admit, this is the kind of grief that is for our good and comfort. This is how we can read words that were once so mysterious and see how much our God loves us.

Mart DeHaan

The Work of the Believer

Romans 12:4-8

The world’s definition of success differs greatly from God’s. Take the role of a pastor, for example—it would be easy to accept accolades for church growth, as many people equate high attendance numbers with a minister’s effectiveness. But the Lord desires that we obey Him with humility. Whether we draw a crowd or not, success is measured by obedience.

This looks different for each believer. Some have very visible jobs, so their efforts are public and obvious. Others serve in quiet, less noticeable ways.

The gifts God bestows upon His followers are tailored to each one’s ordained assignments. The Holy Spirit reveals our calling, and we’re to give our best effort. Of course, no matter what the task may be, the result will be worthless unless the Father breathes life into it. In other words, we are entrusted with God-appointed work. He assigns the duty, provides the skills, and causes growth. The Lord deserves all of the glory. We are designed to achieve His plan.

As mere vessels that God uses, we should be thankful for anything He accomplishes through us. And by giving Him all the credit, we need never feel defeated with disappointment. Rather, in spite of how things may appear, we trust Him to achieve His good purpose.

Honor is misplaced unless it goes directly to the One who creates, sanctifies, and sustains. God created you for specific tasks to further His kingdom. He wants to use your life—and will allow you to watch His powerful hand at work. Listen for His leading, and praise Him for all He accomplishes.

The Sinner’s Prayer

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)

Evangelists have often urged lost men and women to pray this “sinner’s prayer” if they desired to be saved. The account does say that this publican, after praying thus, “went down to his house justified” (v. 14).

But there is more here than appears on the surface. It is not merely God’s mercy that is needed for He has already been merciful to let us continue to live at all. The word translated “merciful” is used only one other time in the New Testament and is there translated “make reconciliation for.” Speaking of the saving work of Christ, it says that He came “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). It is also closely related to the words for “propitiation” and “mercy seat.”

This parable of the Pharisee and the publican is set in the context of the Jewish temple worship, where sinners would bring their sacrificial offerings to cover their sins, knowing that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Such sacrifices were completely worthless, however, if offered in a spirit of religious pride and/or self-righteousness, like those of the Pharisee. There must be repentance and faith in God’s promise of forgiveness through the death of an innocent substitute, pre-figuring the true Lamb of God whose coming death would truly make eternal reconciliation for the sins of the people. The publican prayed in this vein, and he was saved.

In our day, on the other side of the cross, a sinner’s saving prayer must say, in effect: “God, be propitiated to me on the basis of the death of Christ for my sins.” Such a prayer, offered in sincere repentance and faith in God’s promise, brings justification before God. HMM

God hath blessed the for ever

Psalm 45

Let us read Psalm 45.

A Psalm in which Solomon is just visible in the background as a type, but the Lord Jesus fills the foreground in the fulness of loveliness and majesty.

Psalm 45:1

No matter can be so good as that which boils up from a warm heart, and has for its subject the King of saints’. The psalmist resolves also to speak only of that which he had made or experienced, for then he felt he could speak fully, deliberately, and wisely, with all the accuracy and force of an accomplished writer. O to have our hearts warm whenever Jesus is the theme! Could we speak of things which we have made our own concerning King Jesus? The question deserves an answer.

Psalm 45:2

He speaks as though he saw the Well-beloved One. The psalmist falls into raptures at the sight. He hears hint speak, and adores him. We shall do the same if he will but reveal himself to us.

Psalm 45:4

This should be our prayer. O Immanuel, the mighty prince, put forth thy power and subdue men to thyself. As Solomon reigned over wide dominions, so also reign thou, O most sweet Prince.

Psalm 45:5

His gospel pierces men’s hearts, and subdues them to his love.

Psalm 45:7

See the divine and human natures here blended in one person. As man the Lord Jesus has his fellows, but as God his throne is for ever and ever. Let us make no mistake upon this vital point, but believe in Jesus as God and man.

Psalm 45:9

The church is arrayed in the best of the best, the righteousness of God. How lovely she is in the loveliness of Jesus!

Psalm 45:10, 11

The church must be unworldly, and seek first the kingdom of God. Such must each one of us be, and then all other things shall be added unto us, as the next verse teaches.

Psalm 45:12-16

The Lord grant that in this house there may be kept up a gracious succession. May pious sons follow godly fathers, and may the King of our hearts have servants in this family as long as the world stands.

Psalm 45:17

Jesus can never be forgotten. Solomon is not, but Jesus lives on and reigns on, and shall do for ever and ever; blessed be his name.

 

The King of saints, how fair his face,

Adorn’d with majesty and grace!

He comes with blessings from above,

And wins the nations to his love.

 

Let endless honours crown his head;

Let every age his praises spread;

While we with cheerful songs approve

The condescensions of his love.

 

How Is Your Work Ethic?

2 Corinthians 11:23

I personally gain strength when I consider the many victories the Lord gave the apostle Paul. He had multiple challenges that came against him and his ministry, but none of them ever stopped him from his task. As noted earlier (see August 3), it is simply a fact that those who preach the Gospel in difficult parts of the world often encounter extremely hostile situations. In order to overcome these situations, a person has to possess a strong, internal resolution that no devil, no person, no government, and no force is going to stop him from executing the assignment God has given to him.

But this isn’t true only of people who serve on the front lines of the Gospel. It is also true for you. God has a plan for your life. He has a specific vision He wants you to discover and achieve. On the other hand, you have an enemy who doesn’t want you to find that vision. And I want to warn you—from the moment you do discover God’s plan for your life, that enemy will try to stop you from achieving it.

But don’t worry, friend—God has given you all the promises you need to overcome every attack Satan arrays against you. However, in order for those promises to be effective, you have to decide that you are going to stand in faith and resist each attack!

Because of the challenges my wife and I have encountered in our own ministry, I find great strength when I study about the attacks that came against the ministry of the apostle Paul. I like to read about how he persisted and overcame these attacks. The events Paul encountered would have shattered a normal man. But because he used his faith and kept his focus on the prize before him, Paul was able to override and supercede each act of aggression that Satan perpetrated against him. There is no doubt that Paul was hindered by these devilish attacks, but they never stopped him. The devil wasn’t able to stop Paul because the apostle had made a commitment to be unstoppable.

In Second Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul describes some of the difficulties and hassles he encountered in the ministry:

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

Let’s look more closely at this list of difficulties so you can see what Paul faced as he carried out God’s will for his life. Keep in mind that regardless of the cost or the roadblocks Satan tried to set before him, none of these difficulties ever knocked Paul out of his spiritual race. When you see the hardships Paul faced in the fulfillment of his life assignment, your hardships will pale by comparison! Here’s what Paul tells us that he experienced:

Labors More Abundant

Paul says that in the course of his ministry, he worked “… in labours more abundant….” He uses the Greek word kopos to describe the kind of “labor” he put forth in the fulfillment of his apostolic call. This word kopos represents the hardest, most physical kind of labor. It is often used to picture a farmer who works in the field, enduring the extreme temperatures of the afternoon sunshine. The farmer strains, struggles, and toils to push that plow through that hardened ground. This effort requires his total concentration and devotion. No laziness can be allowed if that field is going to be plowed. The farmer must travail if he wants to get that job done.

This word kopos is the same word Paul uses to describe the kind of worker he is! He’s perhaps the hardest worker he knows! In fact, he goes on to say, “… In labours more abundant….” The word “abundant” is the Greek word perissos. It is used here in the superlative sense, meaning very abundantly. It would be best translated, “I worked more abundantly than most men” or “I worked more than you could even begin to comprehend.”

By making this statement, Paul emphatically declares, “When it comes to hard work, no one is a harder worker than I am!” He has personally put out incredible energy to apprehend what Jesus apprehended him to do (see Philippians 3:12).

I personally like this scripture because I believe in doing hard work. We live in a day when the work ethic is not what it once was. People are much “softer” than they used to be. The older generation who lived through World War I, World War II, and the hard economic times of the 1930s have a totally different mindset about work than the present generation. These older people lived through hard times and had no choice but to work hard to build their lives. They worked and worked and worked, and as a result, they achieved much and built great nations.

Today’s generation knows little of hardship. I thank God for the great blessings that have come on the nations during these last days. However, much of it has come so easily for the younger generation that they don’t comprehend the great price the older generation paid to build this easy success for them. When members of the younger generation are asked to do something extra or sacrificial, many of them resent the request or consider it to be almost abusive. Rather than focus on how they can do something extra to contribute to the health and success of the business, organization, or church, they just want to know if they are going to be paid for their efforts.

Paul was not a clock-watcher. He worked harder than anyone else he knew. Although we like to think of the mighty anointing that was on his life, a key factor to his amazing success as an apostle was that he worked at it harder than anyone else. Hard work always produces the best results.

Friend, if you want to be successful or to achieve more than others, you have to develop the mentality that you are going to do more than anyone else is doing. If you only do what everyone else is doing, you will produce nothing better than anyone else.

Align yourself with the apostle Paul. Determine to follow his example so that one day you’ll be able to say, “When it comes to hard work, no one is a harder worker than I am!”

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I want You to help me become a worker who pleases You. Help me also to please my employer and direct supervisor with the quality of my work. Forgive me for wanting to take it easy and for complaining when I am asked to do something extra or to fulfill a task that isn’t in my job description. I want to be the kind of Christian worker who brings joy and pleasure to those who are over me and who presents a good testimony to the name of Jesus. This is really my desire, so I am asking You to help me to do more, to be more, and to demonstrate an attitude of excellence regarding my work!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am a Christian who brings glory to the name of Jesus by the way I work and the attitude I demonstrate on the job. When people think of me, they think of how willing and cooperative I am to do anything that needs to be done and what a pleasure it is to work with me. When my attitude is wrong, I quickly repent and let the Holy Spirit make me what I should be. My supreme desire is to please God and to do a good job for those who pay me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. If it were time for your boss to review your work habits and attitudes, would he find you to be a hard worker or one who just does the minimum on the job? If you were the boss, would you be satisfied with an employee who demonstrates the attitudes you do at the workplace?
  2. How does the quality of your work reflect on the name of Jesus Christ? Do you believe that your work habits and attitudes give others a good impression of Jesus, or does working with you leave people with a bad impression about Christians?
  3. What are the specific areas in your work habits or attitudes that need to be improved? Why don’t you write these areas down so you can pray about them as a part of your daily prayer regimen?

Thank God for the great blessings that have come on the nations during these last days. However, much of it has come so easily for the younger generation that they don’t comprehend the price the older generation paid to build this easy success for them. When members of the younger generation are asked to do something extra or sacrificial, many of them resent the request or consider it almost abusive. Rather than focus on how they can do something extra to contribute to the health and success of the business, organization, or church, they just want to know if they are going to be paid for their efforts

 

Slow Down!

God is still in heaven. You are not responsible for doing it all – yourself – right now!

 

In a few minutes I am having breakfast with a business executive who is experiencing recurring health problems (heart attack 5 years ago). Unabated work pressure, frequent travel, and little time for himself are taking their toll on his life. Perhaps slowing down is at least part of the solution. Six pointers:

  • Allow yourself some time to be lazy and unproductive. Rest isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.‘” (Mark 6:31)

  • Once in a while, turn down the lights and the volume. Turn down the throttle, and the invitations. Less really can be more.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet lifeBetter one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11a; Ecclesiastes 4:6)

  • Create a place in your home — At your work… in your heart… where you can go for quiet and recollection.

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence foreverIn quietness and trust is your strength… ” (Isaiah 32:17; 30:15a)

  • Take time just to think — Action is good and necessary, but it’s fruitful only if we muse, ponder, and mull.

Watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

 

Dont live carelessly, unthinkingly… ” (Ephesians 5:15, 17b – The Message)

  • Talk and play with children – It will bring out the unhurried little person inside you.

Jesus said, ‘… Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes meLet the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:5, 14)

  • Take time to wonder — Without wonder, life is merely existence.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4)

 

 

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