Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8
“I got you a present!” my two-year-old grandson shouted excitedly as he pressed a box into my hands. “He picked it out all by himself,” my wife smiled.
I opened the box to find a Christmas ornament of his favorite cartoon character. “Can I see it?” he asked anxiously. Then he played with “my” present for the rest of the evening, and as I watched him, I smiled.
I smiled because I remembered gifts I had given loved ones in the past, like the music album I gave my older brother one Christmas when I was in high school that I really wanted to listen to (and did). And I realized how years later God was still stretching me and teaching me to give more unselfishly.
Giving is something we grow into. Paul wrote, “But since you excel in everything . . . see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). Grace fills our giving as we understand that all we have is from God, and He has shown us “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
God generously gave us the most unselfish gift of all: His only Son, who would die on a cross for our sins and be raised to life. Any who receive this ultimate gift are rich beyond measure. As our hearts are focused on Him, our hands open in love to others.
Reflect & Pray
In what ways do you need to grow in giving? What could you do today?
Thank You, Father, for giving me the best gift of all: Your Son! Help me to share Your generosity with others today.
But Abraham said, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.” Luke 16:25
The choices we make now ultimately determine the way we spend eternity. And our choices affect those who will be here long after we are gone. Through this parable of the rich man and the poor man, we see that there is also a relationship between our choices on earth and our condition in eternity.
From here on earth, in the midst of daily living, it is often hard to understand eternal consequences. But in this parable, as the veil is pulled aside on the afterlife, we have a glimpse into our own potential destiny. On earth, the rich man lacked compassion, and there was no compassion for him in eternity.
The tragic part of this story was not just the mistreatment that occurred on earth but the torment that endured throughout eternity. We cannot come back and change our lives once they are gone. Now is the time to commit ourselves to Christlike living—it is the only decision that will follow us into eternity.
It does not require great learning to be a Christian and be convinced of the truth of the Bible. It requires only an honest heart and a willingness to obey God. Albert Barnes
Joses, who was also named Barnabas… having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 4:36-37
His name was Joses, but the apostles gave him a nickname—Barnabas, “Son of Encouragement.” He became a powerful leader in the Early Church. The first time we see him in Scripture, he is providing for the needs and ministry of others.
Bob Shank wrote, “Barnabas’ role in the early church made him aware of the unusual financial challenges in supporting the Pentecost pilgrims who had come to the city for their festival and had found faith in the Messiah. They stayed with their travel possessions that were exhausted and then became dependent on the hospitality of the local believers. Barnabas… sold a piece of property that he owned and transferred the funds to the apostles for immediate assistance in caring for the new Christians.”1
Barnabas knew he could never out-give God, and that knowledge fueled his generosity. Giving to God and to His work displays confidence in Him as our ultimate provider and enables us to be sons and daughters of encouragement.
Barnabas was not simply an observer or verbalizer. He acted to meet the extraordinary need with extraordinary generosity. Bob Shank
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
This idea was once expressed better by a simple-hearted man who was asked how he managed to live in such a state of constant tranquility even though surrounded by circumstances anything but pleasant. His answer was as profound as it was simple: “I have learned,” he said, “to cooperate with the inevitable.”…
Though we cannot control the universe, we can determine our attitude toward it. We can accept God’s will wherever it is expressed and take toward it an attitude of worshipful resignation. If my will is to do God’s will, then there will be no controversy with anything that comes in the course of my daily walk. Inclement weather, unpleasant neighbors, physical handicaps, adverse political conditions—all these will be accepted as God’s will for the time and surrendered to provisionally, subject to such alterations as God may see fit to make, either by His own sovereign providence or in answer to believing prayer. BAM064-065
How can I complain in the light of the wonderful gift of Your Son, born to give life—and victory? Work Your will in my life today as I celebrate the incarnation and all that it entails. Amen.
I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.—Galatians 2:20.
Christ in you, the hope of glory.—Colossians 1:27.
Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, If He’s not born in thee, thy soul is still forlorn.
The great mystery of the Gospel does not lie in Christ without us only (though we must know also what He has done for us); but the very pith and kernel of it consists in Christ inwardly formed in our hearts.
When therefore the first spark of a desire after God arises in thy soul, cherish it with all thy care, give all thy heart into it; it is nothing less than a touch of the divine loadstone, that is to draw thee out of the vanity of time, into the riches of eternity. Get up therefore, and follow it as gladly as the wise men of the east followed the star from heaven that appeared to them. It will do for thee as the star did for them, it will lead thee to the birth of Jesus, not in a stable at Bethlehem in Judea, but to the birth of Jesus in the dark centre of thine own soul.
“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11
Many are celebrating our Lord’s first coming this day; let us turn our thoughts to the promise of His second coming. This is as sure as the first advent, and derives a great measure of its certainty from it. He who came as a lowly man to serve will assuredly come to take the reward of His service. He who came to suffer will not be slow in coming to reign.
This is our glorious hope, for we shall share His joy. Today we are in our concealment and humiliation, even as He was while here below; but when He cometh it will be our manifestation, even as it will be His revelation. Dead saints shall live at His appearing. The slandered and despised shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Then shall the saints appear as kings and priests, and the days of their mourning shall be ended. The long rest and inconceivable splendor of the millennial reign will be an abundant recompense for the ages of witnessing and warring.
Oh, that the Lord would come! He is coming! He is on the road and traveling quickly. The sound of His approach should be as music to our hearts! Ring out, ye bells of hope!