VIDEO Blessed to Bless

And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

In his message to the Ephesians in Acts 20, the apostle Paul reminded them he had worked among them with humility and tears, loving them and preaching the whole counsel of God. He exhorted them to take care of themselves and of the flocks over which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers. He told them to support the weak, then he finished with a surprise. He revealed a statement Jesus made during His earthly ministry, one not recorded in the Gospels: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

As a child of God, we know we are blessed. But the hidden blessing many people forget is this one—it is a greater blessing to give blessings than to receive them. The Lord told Abraham, “I will bless you… and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).

In days like this, our churches and ministries need people who are willing to receive the blessing of being givers—givers of our time, treasure, and talent. Let’s thank God for His blessings, and for the blessing of being a blessing to others.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill


Acts 20:29-35 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Unapologetic Tears

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Luke 7:38

“I’m sorry,” Karen said, apologizing for her flowing tears. After the death of her husband, she stretched herself to care for her teenage kids. When men from church provided a weekend camping excursion to entertain them and give her a break, Karen wept with gratitude, apologizing over and over for her tears.

Why do so many of us apologize for our tears? Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to dinner. In the middle of the meal, as Jesus reclined at the table, a woman who had lived a sinful life brought an alabaster jar of perfume. “As she stood behind [Jesus] at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (Luke 7:38). Unapologetically, this woman freely expressed her love and then unwound her hair to dry Jesus’ feet. Overflowing with gratitude and love for Jesus, she topped off her tears with perfumed kisses—actions that contrasted with those of the proper but cold-hearted host.

Jesus’ response? He praised her exuberant expression of love and proclaimed her “forgiven” (vv. 44–48).

We may be tempted to squelch tears of gratitude when they threaten to overflow. But God made us emotional beings, and we can use our feelings to honor Him. Like the woman in Luke’s gospel, let’s unapologetically express our love for our good God who provides for our needs and freely receives our thankful response.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How can you freely express your gratitude to God through your emotions today? How might you make others feel comfortable about sharing their tears?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace in providing for my needs! I pour out my gratitude to You today.

The Message the World Needs to Hear

The gospel is the good news the world needs, and God want believers to share it

Mark 16:15-20

Suppose I asked what the mission of the church is—how would you answer? Although the church accomplishes many tasks, the most important is to share the gospel of Christ. Everything else is merely an extension of that. Never outdated or in need of correction, the good news of Jesus Christ is sufficient to meet humanity’s greatest need: salvation from bondage to sin, through reconciliation with the Father. 

The message has remained the same throughout the centuries, but there are many methods of making it known, including the spoken word, music, written material, and the media. But all these avenues of communication require the individual involvement of God’s people. 

Some Christians think the role of sharing the message and making disciples, known as the Great Commission, belongs only to pastors or missionaries. But every one of us has the responsibility to be involved—we all can give, pray, and tell friends and family what the Lord has done for us. 

When you’re truly committed to getting the gospel out, God will reveal what work He is calling you to do. He has a place for every one of His children—nobody is insignificant or without purpose. The limiting factor is not the Lord’s ability to use us but our availability to His call. 

Unbreakable Love

“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:23-24)

When the Pharisees asked for His view on divorce, Jesus replied by quoting our text, giving the Creator’s view on marriage and how men and women should approach it if they are to function as they were designed (Matthew 19:4-5). He added, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (v. 6).

In some special way, known fully only to Him, a man and woman in a marriage relationship can truly become one flesh, just as Adam and Eve were one flesh after Eve had been fashioned from Adam’s side. (Christ’s doctrine of marriage has no logical foundation, by the way, nor do we have any reason to marry if Adam and Eve were not real, specially created people.)

Our text was also quoted by Paul as he more fully explained the marriage doctrine (Ephesians 5:31), prefacing it with a brief discussion of the relationship between the Lord and His Church (v. 30). Just as we are inseparably “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” He designed each of us to be inseparably “one flesh” with his or her spouse.

Paul uses a forceful word for “leave,” meaning to completely leave one’s parents and “be joined” to the spouse. This word is equally forceful and leaves no room for a half-hearted commitment.

Marriage partners, in the eyes of the Creator, should be inseparable, just as the bones and flesh of a body cannot be separated, and just as we cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:35-39). JDM

Guidance

He renews my life;

He leads me along the right paths

for His name’s sake (Psalm 23 v. 3).

The Lord not only renews my life physically and emotionally, but he also guides me in paths of righteousness. I need to trust the authority of Scripture as my rule of faith and behavior. I need to commit myself to doing God’s will, whatever it is. And I need to walk closely with God so I know him intimately. If I trust him and nurture and cultivate intimacy with him, he makes my paths smooth and straight (Prov. 3:5-6). Living righteously and blamelessly has it’s own reward. If we place God’s authority and our commitment to and intimacy with him in proper perspective, he leads us by the hand through life and manages our affairs. What a comfort to know that the Lord is right in front of me, removing obstacles!

Why does the Lord do this for me? “For his name’s sake.” The Lord takes his name seriously. We are to uphold his holy name. When we do, God makes us new. In Ezekiel 36:22, 26 the Lord says, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name… I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (NIV).

Personal Prayer

Sovereign Lord, I lift up your holy name today. Renew my spirit and give me a new heart.

Ulterior Motives

You don’t know what you’re asking.—Matthew 20:22

There are many people in the Scriptures who appear to be spiritually minded but whose hearts harbor deeply unspiritual motives. Take the mother of the sons of Zebedee, for example, who according to Matthew 27:55 was one of the women who followed Jesus from Galilee in order to minister to Him.

Most commentators believe this small band of women to have been devotees of Christ, assisting Him and the disciples by preparing meals, washing and repairing clothes, and so on. Onlookers would have classified them as deeply spiritual, willing to give up their time to minister to Jesus—and of course, in the main, they were. In one place, however, the Scripture draws aside the veil from the heart of one of them, the mother of James and John, and shows her approaching Jesus with the request: “Promise … that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom.” … “You don’t know what you’re asking,” Jesus said (Mt 20:21-22).

Yes, she served Jesus. Of that there can be no doubt. But she had a secret and selfish motive in her heart: a privileged position for her sons. It is easy to excuse her action, as many have done, on the grounds that she was doing only what any other concerned mother would have done—attempting to get the best for her children. But Jesus saw right into her heart and said: “You don’t know what you’re asking.” How sad that her beautiful ministry to Jesus was spoiled by ulterior motives.

Prayer

My Father, help me to see that I cannot be a fully integrated person when I harbor within me two mutually exclusive loves. I cannot love You fully when I love my own interests fully. Set me free, dear Lord, to live only for You. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 2; Eph 2:3; 1Jn 2:15-16

What motive was James exposing?

What did he say about the law?

First Steps into Freedom

Deuteronomy 31:8

This was no dream. No, the beauty of this morning all around me was real, and the songs of birds and fragrance of flowers were real. How pleasant to be in this quiet and beautiful spot under the bushes where I spent my first night of freedom. How wonderful to know that I would never more be in a dark, narrow cell. No more starving, no more pain of separation from my beloved ones, no more heartbreaking loneliness.

I realized that it was time for me to get up, leave my hiding place and face my new life. I stood up straight, and took a deep breath of the fresh, fragrant air. My thoughts turned to my family. “O Lord, soon, very soon I shall press them all to my heart, my beloved Erna and the children.”

For 10 long years like a robot I had been taught to obey without question the orders of my oppressors. I was afraid of people, of life and the future. But is it not 360 times written in the Word of God, “Fear not”? I would trust Him. My fear disappeared and in my heart rang the words:

I will not care how dark the night,

I will not care how wild the storm.

Thy love will fill my heart with light,

And shield me close and keep me warm.

With this determination I faced a new free life with a fervent prayer on my lips and in my heart to the Lord, that He would hold my hand and lead me as He did in the past. I felt the presence of the Savior gloriously, and overflowing joy came into my soul. Through fields and meadows I walked for many miles to the nearest railway station. From there I sent a telegram to my wife, asking her to meet me at the train, and with only our children. Now I wondered, how would they look, and how would they accept me? Ten years is a long time during which many things change, especially in the life of a child. It was hard for me to accept that the sweet years of their childhood were irrevocably lost for me.

“Prague!” The voice of the train conductor awoke me. I got up. My feet and legs were trembling. Pushing my way through the crowd I at last saw her—my beloved wife. In her simple dress she stood there quietly. She looked different from the flourishing young woman I was forced to leave ten years before. Her dark golden hair had turned grey. The fresh roses on her cheeks had been erased by pain and sorrow. Struggles and persecutions had left their mark on her sweet features. But in spite of all, out of her whole being another beauty radiated—the beauty of a soul purified by fire.

Josef Korbel, When the Gates Were Opened