Dec 30, 2011
Music Credit To: Josh Garrels Song: Farther Along
Dec 30, 2011
Music Credit To: Josh Garrels Song: Farther Along
Do not forget to do good and to share with others. Hebrews 13:16
On the way home from church, my daughter sat in the backseat enjoying Goldfish crackers as my other children implored her to share. Trying to redirect the conversation, I asked the hoarder of snacks, “What did you do in class today?” She said they made a basket of bread and fish because a child gave Jesus five loaves and two fish that Jesus used to feed more than 5,000 people (John 6:1–13).
“That was very kind of the little boy to share. Do you think maybe God is asking you to share your fish?” I asked. “No, Momma,” she replied.
I tried to encourage her not to keep all the crackers to herself. She was unconvinced. “There is not enough for everyone!”
Sharing is hard. It is easier to hold onto what we see in front of us. Perhaps we do the calculation and reason there is simply not enough for everyone. And the assumption is that if I give, I will be left wanting.
Paul reminds us that all we have comes from God, who wants to enrich us “in every way so that [we] can be generous” (2 Corinthians 9:10–11). The math of heaven isn’t a calculation of scarcity but of abundance. We can share joyfully because God promises to care for us even as we are generous to others.
Father, You take good care of me. Help me to think of others today and to share Your goodness with them.
When we believe that God is good, we can learn to open our hands to others.
A careful reading of 2 Corinthians 9 is quite eye-opening. One of the things we see is a cycle of giving that includes the gracious giving of God, the generous giving of those who have received from God, and the giving of thanks from those who have received from God through others. The abundant giving of God is prominent (v. 8). His giving is evident in nature and other areas (v. 10). He enriches us so we can be generous (v. 11), and His gifts include grace that cannot be measured (v. 14). His ultimate gift (the gift of His Son) is “indescribable”—words are inadequate to communicate its worth (v. 15). Generous givers are next in the cycle. Having been enriched by God, the riches received are to be shared with others, especially with those in the family of God (vv. 1–5; see also Galatians 6:10). Lastly, the giving cycle continues with the giving of thanks—thanksgiving to God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. People are recipients of and conduits for God’s bounty, and God—the ultimate Giver—gets the thanks and the glory!
What are some ways you can participate in the cycle of giving?
Each Monday morning I begin the day excited about the next Sunday’s sermon because I get to share what God is going to teach me that week. Now, you may not be a pastor, but you have the same privilege of sharing with someone else what the Lord has been teaching you.
The passion to proclaim Jesus Christ is born from the Christian’s conversion experience, but enthusiasm can fizzle unless we continue learning and growing in faith. If we barely know God, why would we want to talk about Him? But if, on the other hand, we are continually growing in our knowledge of His character, works, and ways, we’ll want to share with others what we’ve learned. In the midst of the world’s ills, Christians have the most precious treasure—Jesus Christ! What good can we do for the kingdom of God or for our unbelieving friends if we stay quiet about Him?
The message we proclaim not only offers freedom from sin’s penalty but also provides the power to live righteously. When Christ died on the cross, each believer was crucified with Him, and sin’s allure and power were broken. This means Christ’s followers can say no to sins that enslave others and live victoriously in obedience to God.
Most people in the world are searching for a better, happier, more purposeful life. But Christians have the secret of life in Christ, who offers us rest for our souls (Matt. 11:29). This is a message we can’t keep to ourselves. As you open your Bible and pray today, ask God to reveal a truth you can share—and the person He wants you to tell.
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” (Matthew 3:16)
There are several beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The first is that of the dove, here mentioned in the very first New Testament reference to the Spirit. It was the dove, of course, that first assured Noah that the earth had risen out of the death waters of the great Flood, just as Christ now rose up out of the baptismal waters to receive the dove-like Spirit.
The water itself is also an emblem of the Spirit in its cleansing efficacy and life-sustaining virtue. Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). This could also be translated “born of water, even the Spirit.” When He promised “rivers of living water” to those who believed on Him, “this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive” (John 7:38-39).
Then, there is the wind: sometimes a gentle breeze, sometimes a mighty hurricane, and this also symbolizes the Holy Spirit. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh. . . . he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16). The Holy Spirit is God; “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The Spirit of God is a gentle dove and living water; He is the blowing wind and a consuming fire; He is our “Comforter” (John 14:26), “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17), and “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2). HMM
In a very short time they forced their way through the outer wall, and began to assail the inner fortifications.
The feeble-minded and vicious monarch had now before him conclusive evidence of the truthfulness of Jere- miah, and no doubt his anguish was great as he remembered how many warnings he had despised.
To see his babes slain, and his friends put to death by hundreds, must have been worse than death, especially to so timid a man as Zedekiah.
He had shut his eyes to the light, and now God for ever shuts him up in darkness; he had chosen the bondage of sin, and now he must wear the chains of misery. God has effectual ways of punishing rebels.
The mighty monarch cared kindly for the poor prophet. No doubt he had heard who he was, and how he had counselled the people to submit.
The mark of the man with the inkhorn was on the prophet, and that was the secret of his safely.
He had been kind to a prophet, and therefore he received a prophet’s reward, and moreover he had put his trust in the Lord, and therefore the saving mark was set upon him. If we cannot be prophets 01 ministers, let us be their friends, and the friends of Jesus, and we shall share in their salvation.
There is a safe and secret place
Beneath the wings divine,
Reserved for all the heirs of grace,
Oh! be that refuge mine!
The least, the feeblest there may hide
Uninjured and unawed;
While thousands fall on every side,
He rests secure in God.
Believer, here thy comfort stands,
From first to last salvation’s free;
And everlasting love demands
An everlasting song from thee.
Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. (Hebrews 10:9)
Let us consider three simple things reinforced in the Word of God for those who would discern God’s highest will.
First, be willing to put away known sin!
Second, separate yourself from all of the attractions of the world, the flesh and the devil!
Finally, offer yourself to your God and Savior in believing faith!
God has never yet turned away an honest, sincere person who has come to know the eternal value of the atonement and the peace that is promised through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The only person who will never be cleansed and made whole is the one who insists he or she needs no remedy. The person who comes in faith to God and confesses, “I am unclean; I am sin-sick; I am blind,” will find mercy and righteousness and life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior, the Cleanser. He is the Purifier, the Healer. He is the Sight-giver and the Life-giver. He alone is the Way, the Truth and the life!
“Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Nah. 1:12
There is a limit to affliction. God sends it and God removes it. Do you sigh, and say “When will the end be?” Remember that our griefs will surely and finally end when this poor earthly life is over. Let us quietly wait, and patiently endure the will of the Lord till He cometh.
Meanwhile, our Father in Heaven takes away the rod when His design in using it is fully served. When He has whipped away our folly, there will be no more strokes. Or, if the affliction is sent for testing us, that our graces may glorify God, it will end when the Lord has made us bear witness to His praise. We would not wish the affliction to depart till God has gotten out of us all the honor which we can possibly yield Him.
There may today be “a great calm.” Who knows how soon those raging billows will give place to a sea of glass, and the sea birds sit on the gentle waves? After long tribulation the flail is hung up, and the wheat rests in the garner. We may, before many hours are past, be just as happy as now we are sorrowful. It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better on before. Let us sing Hallelujah by anticipation.