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Johann Kaspar Lavater: Particular

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

“Every day should be distinguished by at least one particular act of love.”

Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 26.

The word “particular” in this quote caught my attention. I think if we go into each day looking for a particular opportunity to show love, the probability that it will happen increases.

Related to generosity, what if we looked for particular opportunities to bless others rather than wait for them to come to us? God has uniquely positioned us to bless others around us. Are we?

For example, I’ve traveled a lot lately so I took the day off with my wife to bless her. We enjoyed a scenic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park (pictured above). That was my “particular” aim yesterday.

Here’s a practical tip. At the start of each day, ask God to show you someone you can serve and bless. At the end of each day, reflect on what particular opportunity God put in your path. How did you respond?

Sometimes we step up and other times we miss these opportunities. I find that I miss them when I am focused on myself rather than looking for ways to bless and serve others. What will your particular act of love look like today?

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Augustine of Hippo: Lighten Your Load

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

“Poverty is the load of some, and wealth the load of others, perhaps the greater load of the two. It may weigh them too perdition. Bear the load of thy neighbor’s poverty, and let him bear with thee the load of thy wealth. Though lightenest thy load by lightening his.”

Augustine of Hippo in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 25.

Most people think the wealthy have what it takes to navigate life. But do they really? From a biblical perspective, holding on to wealth actually has the opposite effect. Assets become liabilities. Wealth causes people to trust in it rather than God. To give is to lighten your load.

If you are in need today, let your requests be made known unto God. Tell Him what you need. Be specific. If you have more than you need today, do the opposite. Think of at least one person you will aid through sharing. Don’t let wealth weigh you to perdition.

What is perdition? In plain terms, it’s eternal punishment. Jesus does not care so much about what we say we believe. He cares about the deeds that reveal where we place our trust. If this is getting to personal, then please understand that I am not trying to shake you but rather wake you.

Our works reveal our faith or lack thereof. Don’t let the pursuit of wealth shipwreck your faith. Holding on to money is holding on to the wrong thing. I am not trying to rob you but help you. I don’t want anything from you; it’s what I want for you now and for eternity.

Lighten your load and fulfill the law of Christ!

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Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert: Good Measure

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

“Give with a heart glowing with generous sentiments; give as the fountain gives out its waters from its own swelling depths; give as the air gives its vital breezes, unrestrained and free; give as the sun gives out of its light, from the infinite abysses of its own nature.”

Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 25.

What is a good measure for our generosity? I suggest we position ourselves to serve as fountains. We tap the source of all generous giving and let it flow through us with beauty and abundance. We are to be conduits, not containers, of spiritual and material blessings.

It must flow from our hearts with love. It’s not so much our duty, but our DNA in Christ. We give as He gave and as He has instructed us to give. I hear people say that if God supplies, they will give. That’s backwards. It does not require faith. Jesus says to trust Him to supply, to give and it will be given in good measure.

With three missions accomplished in Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia, I can report that even as the fountains give water, the air gives breezes, and the sun gives light, God supplied a good measure for my service. I pray He does the same for you as you give yourself away for Him.

Today my brother turns 56. He’s a great example of a person who often gives generously and trusts God to supply. Happy Birthday. David. I pray you have another rich year of service to God  and that God continues to replenish your resources and energy in good measure to give what you have day by day.

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F. H. Rutledge: Stamp

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35

“By doing good with his money, a man, as it were, stamps the image of God upon it, and makes it pass current for the merchandise of heaven.”

R.F. Rutledge in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 24.

As the trip has drawn to a close, it has been a treat to see kangaroos in the wild, just grazing in park in Mornington Peninsula. They made me think of and celebrate the wonderful creativity of God. And yet, you and me are extra special as we are made in His image.

Do you stamp the image of God on the money you steward so that people see God in your spending? Do people see your generosity and exclaim that you are a child of the Most High? Give so that people will see God stamped all over your generosity.

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John Flavel: Ordained

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

“God kills thy comforts from no other design but to kill thy corruptions; wants are ordained to kill wantonness, poverty is appointed to kill pride, reproaches are permitted to destroy ambition.”

John Flavel (1630-1691) in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 7.

On this long trip, on days when I have not had comforts, I am reminded that perhaps I wanted them more than I should have. In times of need I have found that God not money is what carries me through any and every situation.

Of course I favor good days over tough ones, but God ordains and allows these difficulties to kill the aspects of my character and flesh that need to die. He allows wants, poverty, and reproaches to help make me more like Christ.

I have learned some of these lessons first-hand on my long journey and pray they help me serve more generously on my next trip. I pray they help you too. For now I am thankful to head home to see Jenni, Sammy, Emily, Sophie and Peter.

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D. L. Moody: My Being With You

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. Philippians 1:20-26

“When I read the life of such a man as Paul, how I blush to think how sickly and dwarfed Christianity is at the present time, and how many hundreds there are who never think of working for the Son of God and honoring Christ.”

D.L. Moody (1837-1899) in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 3.

With two days remaining in the longest trip of my life, I find myself energized rather than exhausted with only two days remaining. I say this because when I give my life in generous service, I don’t end up empty. I find myself enriched.

While many equate my global service to the work of Paul, the fact of the matter is that Paul did not work alone. He had about 80 mates with whom he collaborated. He said, “join me” and they replied “with you” and gave their lives in service.

At this point, don’t let your inner man or woman discount what you have to offer. More than half of the work of ministry is just showing up. Paul describes the work here not as preaching or teaching but as “my being with you” to the Philippians.

With a deeper resolve than ever, I am confident that Christianity globally needs ordinary men and women to step up and to give their lives in service to the Son of God. Will you honor Christ by helping others for their progress and join in the faith?

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T. L. Cuyler: The Monk and His Act of Mercy

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Luke 18:22

“I have heard of a monk who in his cell, had a glorious vision of Jesus revealed to him. Just then, a bell rang, which called him away to distribute loaves of bread among the poor beggars at the gate. He was sorely tried as to whether he should lose a scene so inspiring. He went to his act of mercy; and when he came back, the vision remained more glorious than ever.”

T. L. Cuyler in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 26.

Have you ever had a powerful time with God and desired to stay in that place?

The monk in this story could have passed on his act of mercy to enjoy more special time with God. But he stayed true to the task of distributing to those in need. The best part of the story is the climax. His time with God not only picked up where He left off but got even better.

What’s the lesson for us today related to our generosity?

We get up early to spend time with God not to stay in that place but to find true riches for sharing widely. The glorious times equip us for acts of mercy. When we watch Jesus on mission we see Him spend time with the Father and then go forth to distribute blessings.

Let’s be like the monk. Enjoy solitude with God and serve as a generous distributor.

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Jean Pierre de Caussade: Allow God to Act

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:32-33

“Give to God what belongs to Him, and remain lovingly passive in His hands. Hold for certain that what takes place either exteriorly or interiorly is best for you. Allow God to act, and abandon yourself to Him. Let the chisel perform its office, the needle do its work. Let the brush of the artist cover the canvas with many tints which only have the appearance of daubs. Correspond with all these divine operations by a simple and constant submission, a forgetfulness of self, and an assiduous application to duty.

Continue thus in your own groove without studying the way, the ins and outs, and surroundings, the names or particulars of the places; go on blindly pursuing this path, and you will be shown what is to follow. Seek only the kingdom of God and His justice by love and obedience, and all the rest will be added to you. We meet with many souls who are distressed about themselves, and inquire anxiously, “Who will direct us so that we may become mortified and holy, and attain perfection?”

Let them search in books for the description and characteristics of this marvellous work, its nature and qualities; but as for you, do you remain peacefully united to God by love, and follow blindly the clear straight path of duty. The angels are at your side during this time of darkness, and they will bear you up. If God requires more of you, He will make it known to you by His inspirations.”

Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) in Abandonment to Divine Providence (Grand Rapids: CCEL) 70.

In my teaching on this trip which has now brought me to my last stop, Melbourne, Australia, I have reminded those I have served to wait on the Lord and to allow God to act. This is particularly difficult for people who come from well-resourced countries. Why trust in and wait for God when you can act?

Our actions might reflect taking matters into our own hands. God wants us to abandon ourselves to His providence, to remain lovingly dependent upon Him. What path will you choose? There’s a catch you must know before you decide. God is looking for people willing to follow Him blindly, to trust Him completely.

This relates to generosity because times of darkness are inevitable. We can trust Him to sustain us and bear us up. The test is whether we will choose instead to act on our own or choose to worry or fear. This 29 day trip has stretched me. But I trust Him to bear me up and pray you can too.

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Herbert Lockyer: Providence and Grace

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5

“Providence has made such a man able to lend, and grace makes him willing to lend. Wisely, he uses the talents instructed to him, and exercises great care and discretion in the choice of the objects of his benevolence, and also in the management of all his affairs.”

Herbert Lockyer in Psalms: A Devotional Commentary (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993) 472.

I’ve been reading from the Psalms this week. This Psalm reminded me that God’s generous design for life is rooted in providence and grace.

Providence is trusting God to supply and grace is acknowledging all that has been supplied is a gift from God to be enjoyed and shared.

This week I am teaching on governance in Brisbane and Melbourne. It relates to generosity as it is also rooted in providence and grace.

All we have comes to us from God. We don’t store it up on earth but we store it up in heaven by using it in God honoring ways.

Is this your aim? If so, make sure our living, giving, serving, and loving is done with discretion and faithfulness.

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Tremper Longman III: Sacrifice of Praise

But as for me, afflicted and in pain — may Your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. The poor will see and be glad — you who seek God, may your hearts live! The Lord hears the needy and does not despise His captive people. Psalm 69:29-33

“While verse 29 signifies the low point of the psalmist’s attitude, verse 30 suddenly turns to the height of joy in God. This would be surprising if it weren’t typical of the laments, which help sufferers articulate their pain, but at the end, turn them to God to bolster their confidence. The laments usually do turn from weeping to rejoicing.

The psalmist begins by declaring his intent to turn to God, to praise His name with song and to thank him. Such praise will please God more than an ox, the thought being intensified in the second colon by saying that it will please God more than a bull with its horns and hooves. The reference is to sacrifice, and sacrifice of the most expensive type, an ox/bull rather than a sheep or a bird.

God does desire Israel’s heartfelt sacrifices, but what He loves most of all is His people’s praise. The fact that God wants praise more than a bull is good news, particularly for the poor. Why? because the poor cannot afford to offer a bull, but they can offer praise to God. Thus, one does not have to be rich to please the Lord.”

Tremper Longman III in Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014) 266.

On most every trip I take in service to God and often when things are going great with the ministry work, I am tormented with back spasms on at least one of the days. That was me this morning.

I am managing thanks to stretching exercises I have learned from my doctor and the grace of God. Also it helps that after meetings this morning I get to visit the Gold Coast (pictured above).

I would not blame my pain on the uncomfortable seat on my flight from Sydney to Brisbane yesterday or the bed I slept in last night. I actually see it as a gift which drives me to praise God.

Whenever pain moments come, I am learning to give God a gift that He loves that is more than a large expensive sacrifice that come at a financial cost. I am learning to praise Him in my pain.

What if you praised Him in your time of pain? When we do, we actually join the poor and captives who have limited or little financial resources and offer God a gift He loves, a sacrifice of praise.

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