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Jean-Pierre de Caussade: Console yourself by confidence in God alone

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

“I wanted to remain all my life in Toulouse but now I have accepted a new assignment which goes against everything I would want. I saw the hand of Providence and was able to leave the place which I loved with a liberty of spirit that astonished me.

When I arrived at my new assignment there were untold business meetings, with the bishop, the parliament and the King’s lieutenant – all sorts of grand people. Providence gives me a confidence and even a peace in the midst of a thousand cares (which I thought would overwhelm me). Peace comes because God has made my soul impervious to fear. After doing my best, I leave all to Him.

God is a good Father and, from personal experience, I know that He causes all to prosper for His children. Since He has already done so much, will He now forget us? I wait for success with confidence and peace. I accept what happens just to keep pace with His Providence. How can we, poor ignorant creatures, judge Him?

God will keep us at peace even amid the world’s greatest disasters. We will be tranquil in proportion to our abandonment. When abandonment is neglected, no peace or rest is possible. Do not judge anyone harshly. This will preserve your peace. Console yourself by confidence in God alone.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) in Abandonment to Divine Providence (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) 2.

Special thanks to my friend and Daily Meditations reader, Micah Kohls, for reminding me of the value of this classic book, which I read a few years back when ‘providence’ was my word for the year. When I re-read the first few pages of it yesterday, this post came into view. Perhaps you can relate to it? I know I can.

Anytime we start a new responsibility, such as my new role as President / CEO of Global Trust Partners (GTP), we have many cares and concerns, and the workload and duties can seem overwhelming. What must we do in such situations? There is a way forward that reflects God’s kindness: “Console yourself by confidence in God alone.”

Recently I had a great need arise for GTP that was far greater than anything I could sort. I resolved to breathe in the peace of Christ, and breathe out any fears and worries. I calmly stated my need to the Father and asked Him to help sort it. Rather than share the details, suffice it to say that He sorted it in three days in an unimaginable way.

I had to surrender the struggle of trying to make it happen myself and abandon myself to His provision and care. It was a great exchange. I gave up worry and fear and received peace and, eventually, provision. What about you? Living generously happens only when we learn to trust in Providence. Start by giving Him your cares and concerns.

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Dallas Willard: Fly right-side up

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Hebrews 3:4

“You cannot call upon Jesus Christ or upon God and not be heard. You live in their house, their ecos (Heb. 3:4). We usually call it simply “the universe.” But they fully occupy it. It is their place, their “kingdom,” where through their kindness and sacrificial love we can make our present life an eternal life. Only as we understand this, is the way open for a true ecology of human existence, for only then are we dealing with what the human habitation truly is. And the God who hears is also one who speaks. He has spoken and is still speaking. Humanity remains His project, not its own, and His initiatives are always at work among us. He certainly “gives us space,” as we say, and this is essential. But He continues to speak in ways that serious inquirers can hear if they will. We need not, as earlier described, stagger onward in darkness concerning what is truly good and really right. We need not fly upside down. There is a right-side up, and we can find it.—But we don’t have to. We are free. For now.”

Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (New York: HarperCollins, 1998) 32-33.

What a generous God we serve. He reigns and fully occupies every corner of the universe. He hears all and speaks to people in reply. Yes, He also gives us space to live, give, serve, and love according to His design, or not.

When we attune to Him and follow His pattern for generous living, we gain and others are blessed. When we don’t, we lose and others lose. As Willard rightly notes, for now we are free to fly as we wish. Are you flying right-side up?

There’s a way that seems right to man, but it leads to death. The way of Jesus leads to life. Today I want to remind you of the biggest reason to live according to God’s generous design. We have the kindness and sacrificial love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with us.

Notice how God’s kindness relates to generosity. We are the builder’s primary project on the planet. And His kindness and love backs everything He desires for us to do. He wants us to count on Him to live out His design. He will care for us as we fly right-side up.

Someday we will all have to live this way in the eternal kingdom. But we must not wait until then to grasp life in all its fullness. We can start soaring now. And I am praying for Jenni as she soars to California this morning to spend three days with her parents to serve and encourage them.

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Gary Chapman: 5 Questions

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. Ephesians 4:7

“What would your relationships be like if you…

1. Treated every individual as a potential friend?

2. Made choices as you drove, talked on the phone, traveled, and interacted with your neighbors that showed you value every person’s worth?

3. Received others’ acts of kindness and generosity with graciousness?

4. Spoke courteously with everyone, even those with whom you disagree?

5. Learned to express common courtesies to the people you love the most?”

Gary Chapman in Love As a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2008) 108-109.

These five questions will not only transform our relationships. They can shape our generosity in a distinctly Christian way. Think about it. Christ has apportioned grace to us. Some of us need more than others, and Christ has given each of us exactly what we need. Learning to receive His grace is the critical first step to dispensing kindness and generosity.

I’ve noticed in focusing on kindness this year that many people do not want to receive it. You offer to hold the door for them, and they won’t go through it. They insist to wait and do it on their own. Is that you? How might your capacity to receive need to grow so that your generosity can increase in abundance?

If we want to grow in generosity, we must learn to receive acts of kindness from others. We must put ourselves in a position of dependence on God to supply and see what happens. He works through people, and often the ones we least expect. We cannot give before first receiving, and everything we receive is thanks to grace.

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C.S. Lewis: Human Companionship

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

‘Those who say “The more I see of men the better I like dogs” — those who find in animals a relief from the demands of human companionship — will be well advised to examine their real reasons.’

C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves (New York: HarperCollins, 1960) 69. Special thanks to Shawn Manley, my friend and the CFO/COO for Global Trust Partners, for alerting me to this quote.

Human companionship is a gift from God.

As I travel the world, see differences in societies, and then return home, I notice that almost everyone in the United States has a pet with whom they are closely connected and people from whom they are disconnected in relationships. Meanwhile the rest of the world tends to focus on human companionship. In most of those places, dogs don’t sit on laps; they wander the streets eating scraps.

What’s this post got to do with generosity?

That’s a fair question, but I think I have an answer. My point is not to get rid of your dog. We love our German Shorthair Pointer dog, Joy, who will likely greet me at the door when I get home tonight from Los Angeles with a stuffed animal (bird) in her mouth as a subtle hint that she wants to play or go pheasant hunting with me.

My point is to examine our relationships and the gift of human companionship rather than retreat to find relief from humans with an animal. We must not allow a dog to be our best friend. I am not saying that pets can’t give us emotional support. What I am saying (with Lewis), is to examine our relationships and to cultivate and cherish the generous gift of human companionship.

If you enjoy God’s gift of people and you have a dog, well, then consider yourself richly blessed. One of my greatest joys in life is my morning and evening walks with my wife, Jenni, and our dog, Joy, when I am home. We walk. We talk. We pray. We praise God for many blessings on the journey of life. And, we do this twice daily together with our dog.

I am in meetings today with dear brothers, Rob Foster, Rick Yohn, Chi-Chung Keung, and Travis Shelton. These are companions with whom I have traveled and ministered all over the world. What a gift to spend time with them. It requires sacrifice, but the gain far outweighs the investment. That’s how it works in God’s abundant economy.

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Thomas E. Trask and Wayde I. Goodall: Kindness follows us

Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life, and I will live forever in your house, LORD. Psalm 23:6

“Kindness isn’t always giving people what they want, because what they want may bring harm to them. For example, you would cause great difficulty for your children if every time they wanted something you gave it to them. As children grow older it is absolutely necessary that they develop maturity, and with that comes the reality of having to work for a living and for the things they desire. If they never learn that truth, they will likely limp through life.

Kind people look for opportunities to show kindness. David wrote in Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” In the original language the words “follow me,” mean that God’s goodness, mercy, and love will pursue me and hunt me down all of my life. God, our Father, is constantly looking for ways to help us, to bless us, and to care for us. He is always ready to give us counsel. He is never too busy and loves to take time for us. His kindness is everlasting toward you and me. As God’s children we are to be like Him.”

Thomas E. Trask and Wayde I. Goodall in The Fruit of the Spirit: Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000) 91.

As we think of our generosity linked to kindness, this idea that God’s kindness follows us and that our kindness follows others is absolutely beautiful.

We get to pursue people, thinking of ways to bless them, not with everything they want, but with what they need. We do this because God has done it for us.

Father, show us someone to follow with kindness. By your Holy Spirit, empower us to extend it to them. Do this so we show your love I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

God’s kindness follows me through people like my friend and GTP board secretary, Randy Kung. We had a great meeting yesterday at Chino Valley Community Church (pictured above) in sunny California.

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Christopher J. H. Wright: Biblical kindness

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love. 2 Corinthians 6:3-6

“Kindness goes beyond duty — it means doing something you don’t have to to, but just choose to do. Kindness goes beyond reward — it means doing something you won’t get paid to do. In fact, real kindness usually costs something and doesn’t expect any reward. You do what is kind for its own sake and for the sake of the other person. In that sense, kindness is its own reward.

In the Bible, kindness is often linked with generosity. In fact, the word Paul uses often had that sense: kindness could often mean generously providing for another person’s benefit. That’s biblical kindness…

We need to remember that kindness is a part of the fruit of the Spirit precisely because it doesn’t come naturally (even though it’s true that some people seem to be just more naturally kind than others). But the sort of kindness Paul is talking about is not “natural” but “spiritual,” in the sense that it comes from being filled with God’s Spirit. Such kindness is fruit (it grows because of the life of the Spirit within us), but it also has to be cultivated. It has to become a habit that builds into our character.”

Christopher J.H. Wright in Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit: Growing in Christlikeness (Downers Grove: IVP, 2017) 84.

Even as the Apostle Paul applied himself to navigate away from difficulties, he and those ministering with him devoted themselves to kindness and trusted the Holy Spirit to produce this fruit in them despite the circumstances.

What about you? Is God putting you through the crucible? Often stretching times are the times we fail to reflect kindness toward others. These are the times we must apply ourselves to kindness so that it’s part of our character all the time.

As kindness is often equated or coupled with generosity, this means that not just in good times of plenty, but in hard times, we aim at kindness and generosity so our lives serve as conduits of God’s love and blessing regardless of the circumstances. That’s biblical kindness!

I am flying to Los Angeles this morning for some meetings over the next two days. Pray with me that they are fruitful for both Global Trust Partners and Pioneers Hong Kong. Thank you.

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Martin Luther: Double Kindness

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

“Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift. After that it is necessary that you turn this into an example and deal with your neighbor in the very same way, be given to him also as a gift and example… This double kindness is the twofold aspect of Christ: gift and example.”

Martin Luther as cited by Kelly Kapic in God So Loved, He Gave: Entering the Movement of Divine Generosity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) 150.

Think about double kindness for a moment. It’s the posture of Jesus toward us and the pathway for our living toward others. Christ is gift and example to us. Our lives are a gift to others. We get to live, give, serve, and love like Jesus. And in so doing, we are an example to others of generosity.

Are you living as an “indescribable” gift? Are you setting an example that others would want to follow? Ponder these questions today. Start by thinking about the gift aspect. Then consider the example you are setting for your children, family, friends and/or co-workers.

Only when we understand the double kindness of Christ, can we extend it toward others. Receive the gift. Follow the example. This is the pathway to understanding and practicing Christian generosity. As you grasp double kindness, you realize it’s so awesome that it’s indescribable.

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Jack Hayford: Taxing and Abrasive

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23

The Greek word for kindness is chrestos. Jack Hayford describes this portion of the Holy Spirit’s fruit as “goodness in action, sweetness in disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence, kindness, affability. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience. The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control.”

Jack Hayford as quoted by Thomas E. Trask in The Fruit of the Spirit: Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 92.

Notice two aspects of Hayford’s definition of ‘kindness’, which will also unleash the fruit of generosity in us. They link to those who tax our patience and to our abrasive qualities toward others. In simple terms, God’s work goes both ways.

Firstly, this sentence shows the Spirit’s power at work through us: “The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience.” Only the Spirit can empower us to serve and minister to those that push our proverbial buttons. When we do, it shows God at work in us and brings Him glory.

Secondly, this work in us is transformative: “The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control.” We must welcome the shaving and polishing that God wants to do to our character through the Spirit. Let us allow God to conform us into His image and likeness so people see Him in and through our lives.

Father, by your Spirit radiate kindness through us even when taxed by others and turn our abrasive spots into sweet spots so your generosity through us blesses others. In your mercy hear my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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William Barclay: Always eager to give

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:3-6

“The love and grace of God are gifts which no man could ever earn; they can only be accepted in perfect trust and in awakened love. God offers His love to men simply out of the great goodness of His heart and the Christian thinks never of what he has earned but only of what God has given. The keynote of the Christian life must always be wondering and humble gratitude, never proud self-satisfaction… It’s due to His goodness. The word is chrēstotēs and it means benignity. It means that spirit which is so kind that it is always eager to give whatever gift may be necessary chrēstotēs is an all-embracing kindliness, which issues not only in a warm feeling but also in generous action at all times.”

William Barclay in The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Revised Edition (DSBS; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975) 261. Today marks a return to ‘kindness’ which is my word for 2019.

Those who exhibit kindness are “always eager to give” to others, whether they are deserving or not. This shows itself in “generous action at all times” and so it will look different compared to the world around us.

I learned yesterday that one of my Daily Meditations readers is battling with cancer: John Scott. Join me in praying a prayer for his healing. He also comes to mind today because of Barclays use of this interesting word: benignity.

Benignity is the opposite of malignity. To exhibit benignity is to be a person who is perpetually harmless (where as malignity is perpetually harmful, think: ‘malignant’ cancer). Consider the implications that God is perpetually harmless.

God does not harm us. He can’t because of His goodness. Moreover, He never ceases to lavish us with good things. If you are going through tough times, don’t lose heart. Call out to God who is “always eager to give.”

Father, you are perpetually good toward all you have made. Touch John and any others who suffer. Hear their cries for help. Answer in your kindness and mercy by Your Holy Spirit. Hear my prayer for them in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Nelson Mandela: Internal Factors

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

“In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence, and popularity, wealth, and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men.”

Nelson Mandela in a letter to Winnie Madikizela Mandela in 1977. Special thanks to Andrew Russell, a daily reader and my mate from Melbourne, Australia, for today’s quote.

Are you concentrating on internal or external factors?

I am building the GTP team and just spent a week working collaboratively with two colleagues. In a conversation with one of them just two days ago, I said, don’t worry about focusing on your performance, results, or outcomes. She looked at me quizzically, and then she realized where I was going with the comment.

I urged her to focus on attuning her heart to God so that He’d work on the internal factors in her life making her into a fruitful conduit of blessing. Only when we attune to God and submit to His work in our lives on the internal factors (our ‘inner self’), do we develop into the generous people God wants us to be.

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