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Clinton E. Arnold: Far more abundantly

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

“The power of God is the central theme of Paul’s praise in this doxology… To heighten their perspective on the active power of God toward the readers, Paul says that God can accomplish more than they ever ask Him in prayer. He then takes it a step far beyond that by asserting that God can do more than they can even imagine… What is even more amazing is that God uses His power for the benefit of His people.

Paul says that God works “according to the power which mightily works within us.” He has already displayed this power by raising Jesus from the dead and exalting Him to His right hand in a position of authority over all the forces of evil… This assures the readers that what He has promised — especially to bless them with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ — He is able to fulfill…

This is the only doxology that explicitly refers to the church as the medium of His glory… As the church maintains its vital unity with Christ, becomes more like the Father in holiness, defeats the influence of the power of the supernatural enemies, fills the world with the good news of the Son resulting it its numerical growth, and offers continual praise to the Father, the church brings glory to God.”

Clinton E. Arnold in Ephesians (ZECNT; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) 219-220.

It is only fitting that my last post of 2018 (and my last post on the theme of abundance) would have a doxology from Scripture as the biblical text. This doxology celebrates the matchless power of God, reminds us of the amazing privilege of prayer, and sets forth our collective role as the church to glorify God.

Notice that the doxology proclaims what is true, that God is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” Does God work like we expect? Rarely. Does He work wonders we could never imagine? Often. Why say this? If God answered every prayer the way we asked, we’d get the glory. There’s something bigger at play and we have a role in it. It’s God’s glory.

When we abide in Christ, and live in the reality of His power, God works in amazing ways through us. We are humbled to realize we are part of something bigger than ourselves, though our prayers often revolve around our troubles or situations. In the midst of all this, we bring Him glory through our generous living, giving, serving, and loving, that can only be credited to His power and fueled by His abundant and gracious provision.

Father, bless us to be a blessing in 2019 and beyond. Work abundantly beyond what we could ever ask or imagine by your Holy Spirit. Do all this through us collectively, as your Church, so the world sees You right now, in this generation when so many have lost hope. Work generously in and through us and be glorified right where you have placed us we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Tremper Longman III: Confidence in God’s Abundance

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:5-9

“I treat this as a psalm of confidence… The psalmist addresses God directly to extol His character and the benefits of a relationship with Him…

God’s people enjoy His love, His righteousness, faithfulness, and justice. God displays these qualities in abundance. His love and faithfulness reach upwards to the heavens. His righteousness is as high as the highest mountains and His justice as deep as the deepest sea.

The benefits of a relationship with God include protection. The psalmists expresses his intention to trust God by evoking the refuge provided by bird’s wings…

God provides the sustenance needed for life, both food and drink. The reference to God’s house is likely a reference to the sanctuary, thus perhaps linking the feast’s abundance to the fellowship offerings enjoyed by worshippers…

God is a fountain of life… as a fountain spews forth refreshing water, so God is the source of life. He provides light, light that illuminates our life.”

Tremper Longman III in Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC; Downers Grove: IVP, 2014) 175-177.

It’s been an amazing journey to reflect on the relationship between abundance and generosity in 2018. As we near the end of the year, I thought it was fitting to look at a psalm that celebrates this theme.

From Psalm 36 we discover the source of our confidence in life. It flows from a relationship with God and our experience of His abundance of love, righteousness, faithfulness, and justice. Since those are big words, let’s pause to consider their function and meaning.

Looking ahead to 2019, no matter what you will face, rejoice that nothing can separate you from the love of God. Pause daily and ask God to fill you with love, so that you are deeply satisfied and enriched to bless all those you touch each and every day.

In a deep relationship with God we also find an abundance of righteousness, faithfulness, and justice. This reminds us that God will show us the right ways we should go each day, and we can rely on His faithful promises and presence each step of the way.

Many people try to find security in money, while the psalmist beckons us instead to rely on the priceless care of God. In His justice we can trust, and we find rest and protection in the shelter of His wings. Even as there is no such thing as generosity apart from God (as God’s Word teaches us that generosity is a fruit of the Spirit), we cannot experience it or grow in it apart from a relationship with God.

So, to grow in generosity in 2019, I suggest you make sure you are practicing disciplines to deepen your relationship with God. Tune out the noise in your life so you can hear from God. Block 15 minutes each morning to read through a chapter in God’s Word a few times to nourish your soul.

Take time to pray too. I like to follow the simple acronym, PRAY so that my prayers center on God and not myself. Open with Praise, take time for Repentance, Ask God to minister to others who are in need or hurting around you, and then last, lift up requests for Yourself.

And perhaps get outside and enjoy the life and beauty of God’s creation like the psalmist undoubtedly did. Celebrate the greatness of God that surpasses the majesty of the mountains, the serenity of the sea, and the tranquility of rivers.

If you need help with this, enjoy these two fly fishing videos that my son, Sammy, recently gave me as gifts for my birthday (Whitehorse Basin Cutthroat Trout Fly Fishing) and for Christmas (Northern Great Basin Redband Fly Fishing). They celebrate seven new sub-species of trout we tracked down in a week-long expedition in Southeastern Oregon this past summer. The footage is stunning and the music will minister to your soul.

Nurture your relationship with God with intentional disciplines in 2019. It will take your faith to new heights and depths, and best of all, you will gain unfathomable confidence in God’s abundance.

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James R. Edwards: Abundant love of God

Looking at His disciples, He said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:20-26

“The blessings and woes set forth the way of Jesus concretely and directly, and in contrast to conventional societal behaviors. Those blessed are not “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), i.e., blessed because of spiritual humility, but those who have given up everything and are persecuted for Jesus’ sake… The poor can be either good or evil. But poverty does make disciples aware of their need and dependence on God, and their physical wants open them to the abundant love of God and joy of salvation. Poverty is not a reflection of divine displeasure, but rather, like Pascal’s “God-created vacuum,” something that God uses to increase dependence on Himself, and to fill with Himself. There can be joy in their poverty for everything contained in the kingdom of God is their possession.”

James R. Edwards in The Gospel According to Luke (PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015) 193-194.

As I wrap up 2018 with a few more meditations on the theme of abundance, I want to reiterate the importance of daily filling your heart and life with the abundant love of God rather than pursuing the things that society says will satisfy you and give you comfort and pleasure. The abundant supply of love never runs out. Do this because love is the one trait for which people should recognize us, because love covers a multitude of sins, and because it heals the deepest brokenness. But hear this exhortation with a warning.

If you give up your plans for your life and follow Jesus resolving to serve as a generous conduit of this love, those around you will not only notice, they might turn on you. Your obedience when set alongside their cultural conformity reveals their true character and yours. What will happen as a result? Jesus does not sugarcoat it. You will likely have times of hunger, weeping, and even persecution like the prophets before you. And yet, the reward will outweigh any strife you endure, but that won’t come until later.

So what’s my charge to you as you look ahead to 2019 and think about living generously?

Choose the path of dependence on God which opens you to rely on the abundant love of God daily and experience the joy of salvation. While others pursue their bucket lists that leave them empty, you will take the most exciting and hardest journey imaginable. But it’s one that will cause you to be enriched. If others want to join you on the journey, urge them to fill the vacuum in their hearts with the abundant love of God. That could be the most generous thing you do next year. With such sojourners, you will forge deep spiritual friendships that will last a lifetime.

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Walter Brueggemann: Abundant living

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

“What counts for a Christian is how one lives. We are called by the gospel to live a different kind of life, to be engaged in the world and in the neighborhood in transformative ways. That is why Paul, after he makes his complex theological argument, ends in Romans 12 with a quite specific inventory of how Christians are to live in the world and in the neighborhood.

Paul says: Live in generosity as a giver. Paul knows that those who live in the gospel have been given an abundance of life, and they are to let that abundance from God spill over into the life of the neighborhood. That abundance among us is very often a material blessing, and it is to be shared. But it is also a generosity of spirit that reaches out, by its very openness, to let one’s presence and attitude be a blessing to others around.

Paul writes: Extend hospitality to strangers. The stranger is somewhat different for us now, as we are variously preoccupied with differences in ethnicity, in gender, in nationality, in religious passion, or even in class. It is easy enough to be suspicious of strangers and to stay with one’s own kind and exclude the others if we can. But Paul knows that in fact we are all strangers and aliens in the world, and we have been wrapped in God’s goodness that gives us freedom to practice hospitality to others, so that they may be welcome and make a home in our midst and be with us in the neighborhood of God.

Paul writes: Never avenge yourselves. He knows about trying to get even. He urges fellow Christians instead to break that vicious cycle of getting even, to transform the thirst for vengeance into acts of forgiveness, so that one no longer needs to get even. Such a transformative act impacts both parties in healing ways, the one forgiven and the one who forgives.

There is more that Paul highlights, but what a place to start: generosity, hospitality, forgiveness. When we resolve to live that way, the neighborhood is transformed.”

Walter Brueggemann in Celebrating Abundance: Devotions for Advent (Louisville: WJKP, 2017) 62-63.

When we get together in America over the holidays of Christmas and New Year’s Day, many people talk about various facets of life. Some speak about sports, politics, current events, or other topics. Often the focus of the conversations orbits around what needs to be done to change the world, solve systemic problems, or make things right in a broken world.

Interestingly, we have everything we need to sort every social ill in the Christ of Christmas. As we walk with Him we grasp abundant living and point the way for others. When we live and interact with our neighbors with generosity, hospitality, and forgiveness, we bless, welcome, and love in otherworldly ways. We show the world that Jesus is the transforming answer.

As we wrap up 2018 in looking at the theme of abundance, I have a question for you. Does your life reflect abundant living? After four rare days as a family of four, I write with gratitude to God that each member of my family is living this way. Today we disperse to live it out. What counts for all of us as Christians, as Brueggemann rightly notes, is how we live. How we live shows our neighbors what we believe.

What will your life reveal about what you believe in 2019? A good starting point is to lean into these three themes. Consider how God has resourced you to serve as a generous conduit of blessing. Think about something you can do to help a wanderer find a home with Christ. Reflect on what it means to forgive and love those around you. Over time, this will transform your life and your neighborhood!

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Leon Morris: Say Grace

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what H?e was going to do. Philip answered Him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. John 6:5-13

“Jesus sees a large number of people coming toward Him. Philip was the natural person to ask where food might be found to feed them all, for he was a native of nearby Bethsaida (John 1:44). John makes it clear that the question was a test for Philip. Perhaps a test of his faith; did he believe that Jesus would provide? It was not because Jesus did not know.

Philip’s reply stresses the hopelessness of the situation judged from the meager resources of the little band… Philip does not point to a solution, but to an impossibility… It is possible that [Philip’s] knowledge of the lad came as a result of a reconnaissance with a view to finding out what food resources could be mustered, for he definitely relates the boy’s supply to the needs of the multitudes. Or the boy may have offered his food to Jesus…

Jesus now takes charge. He instructs the disciples to get the people seated… Then he says Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks (“said grace”; John uses the verb eucharistew [from whence we get the term, eucharist, which is associated with the Lord’s Supper] whereas the Synoptists [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] employ eulogew [which means “to praise or bless”] in the parallels).

After this He distributed the food to the people. John lets us understand that the disciples were the medium of the distribution and…indicates that this was a satisfying repast, not a token meal. The thought of plentiful supply is continued in the reference to their having “had enough to eat” (Mark 6:42). But though there was abundance there was no waste, for Jesus commanded that they gather up all the pieces left over. Twelve baskets were filled in this way…”

Leon Morris in The Gospel According to John (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 303-306.

A close look at the Greek behind the account of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand reveals the source of the widely-known pattern of “saying grace” before a meal.

Today’s Scripture sets the scene. Jesus tests Philip with the question of where the supply of food will come from to feed the multitudes. With my accounting background I would have done what Philip likely did. I would have assessed the situation, focused on what we needed (a half-year’s wages), and minimized the value of the five loaves and two fish.

Only in keen observation do we discern the way of Jesus. He focused on what God had supplied, gave thanks (or literally proclaimed grace), and put the provision to work. That’s what Jesus does. Rather than cry aloud for what we think we need, which is our human tendency (and my proclivity), Jesus shows a different way, a higher course.

Do you feel like you have needs today? I know I do as I launch Global Trust Partners (GTP), the international accountability entity birthed by ECFA in recent days. Serving as president feels a bit overwhelming at the moment. Today, however, the Lord has given me a sweet reminder, as GTP only has resources for a half of a year to get going.

It is a test. I must without hesitation, “say grace” for what God has supplied and put it to work, every bit of it, and trust Him to continue to supply. I may also tap others which may test them and help their faith grow in the process. His grace has brought each of us to where we find ourselves, and saying grace proclaims our trust in God from here!

Why say grace whenever you are in need? It changes everything. Rather than sit in fear, worrying about what you don’t have, your faith is strengthened when you realize what God has supplied. Our part is to be faithful with whatever we have. We must put it to work with gratitude to God. When we do, we see miracles happen afresh today.

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Stanley Hauerwas: Wealth darkens and chokes us

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. Matthew 13:12

“The parable of the sower is not often considered by those concerned with the loss of the church’s status and membership in Europe and America, but it is hard to imagine any text more relevant to the situation of the churches in the West. Why we are dying seems very simple. It is hard to be a disciple and be rich. Surely, we may think, it cannot be that simple, but Jesus certainly seems to think it is that simple. The lure of wealth and the cares of this world produced by wealth quite simply darken and choke our imaginations…”

Stanley Hauerwas in Matthew (BTCB; Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2006) 129.

In the last six days of 2018, I will reflect on biblical texts linked to my theme for 2018, abundance. Today’s Scripture verse comes after the parable of the sower when Jesus explains its meaning. At first glance, it is confusing to read. Why would those who have be given more and those who don’t have lose whatever they had?

Hauerwas offers a helpful explanation for this enigmatic statement of Jesus. People think having an abundance of money is the answer to life. Even disciples of Jesus fall into the trap of believing this. As God blesses them with resources, they tend to trust in the resources rather than God who supplies. How do we avoid falling into this trap?

The key is to put it to work faithfully what God has supplied in order to be resupplied and not have our supply removed from us. In short, we depend on God and not money. Wealth only ruins those who hold on to it. Those who don’t remain faithful will crumble and waste away because wealth does not build the kingdom, obedience does.

Those who hold on to wealth end up finding their perspective darkened, their faith choked, and they fail to produce an abundance of fruit. Their allegiance to money contributes to their struggles, and so it is with the church in the West. Her wealth has largely destroyed her. However, not all churches and not all disciples have succumbed. Have you

Father, teach us by your Holy Spirit to use what we have so we don’t lose what we have. Help us steward whatever wealth you supply obediently, trusting in your ongoing resources to sustain us and so that our lives will bear much fruit for your glory. Hear our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Cyril of Alexandria: Christ in the manger

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

“Look not therefore upon Him who was laid in the manger as a babe merely, but in our poverty see Him who as God is rich, and in the measure of our humanity Him who excels the inhabitants of heaven, and who therefore is glorified even by the holy angels. And how noble was the hymn, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and among men good will!” For the angels and archangels, thrones and lordships, and high above them the Seraphim, preserving their settled order, are at peace with God: for never in any way do they transgress His good pleasure, but are firmly established in righteousness and holiness.

But we, wretched beings, by having set up our own lusts in opposition to the will of our Lord, had put ourselves into the position of enemies unto Him. But by Christ this has been done away: for He is our peace; for He has united us by Himself unto God the Father, having taken away from the middle the cause of the enmity, even sin, and so justifies us by faith, and makes us holy and without blame, and calls near unto Him those who were afar off: and besides this, He has created the two people into one new man, so making peace, and reconciling both in one body to the Father.

For it pleased God the Father to form into one new whole all things in Him, and to bind together things below and things above, and to make those in heaven and those on earth into one flock. Christ therefore has been made for us both peace and goodwill; by whom and with whom to God the Father be glory and honor and might with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.”

Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) in Commentary on St. Luke, Sermon II (From the Syriac. MS.12,154).

It’s Christmas. I conclude this series, Advent in Alexandria, with today’s post. I write in celebration with Cyril that my poverty has been exchanged for peace and goodwill because of Jesus.

With this post we behold the greatest act of generosity in human history. The One who was rich came to earth and became poor so that we might become rich. This act was all made possible by grace.

In so doing God did not leave Jesus lowly but lifted Him up and gave Him a name above every names, that at the name of Jesus, every knee would bow and tongue confess, “Jesus is Lord!”

How great is our God. To imitate His generosity, we too must become poor so that others might become rich. When we do this in obedience to His teachings, we don’t end up empty, but rather, enriched for greater generosity.

We, like Jesus, become agents of peace and goodwill to our neighbors, to our community, and to all the peoples of the earth. Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth, goodwill to all people! Happy Christmas everyone.

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Clement of Alexandria: Gifts of God

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

“For he who holds possessions, and gold, and silver, and houses, as the gifts of God; and ministers from them to the God who gives them for the salvation of men; and knows that he possesses them more for the sake of the brethren than his own; and is superior to the possession of them, not the slave of the things he possesses; and does not carry them about in his soul, nor bind and circumscribe his life within them, but is ever laboring at some good and divine work, even should he be necessarily some time or other deprived of them, is able with cheerful mind to bear their removal equally with their abundance. This is he who is blessed by the Lord.”

Clement of Alexandria (150-215) in Who is the Rich Man that shall be Saved? XVI.

Those who view possessions as gifts of God use them for the sake of others more than themselves. They cheerfully labor at “some good and divine work” relying on God so they can handle either the removal or an abundance of resources.

Is that you? Are you using what you have more for others than for yourself trusting in God to sustain you?

I am now safely home, but something happened when I was in Alexandria, Egypt. In seeking to serve brothers and sisters with a “cheerful mind” and spend time with them I did not expect how God’s love would flow through them to me.

Sure, I can’t wait to return there, but I must first reflect on my experience.

When we use the gifts of God in service to others, we can minister in beautiful ways. But we also receive unimaginable love and kindness from unexpected sources. We discover that we are blessed by the Lord for more than anything we gave!

As tomorrow is Christmas day in the West (the East observes it on 7 January 2019), ask yourself if you are prepared to welcome Jesus into every aspect of your life, especially related to your living, giving, serving, and loving.

If you desire to be generous after Advent, use all you have for others more than for yourself. Be not a slave to possessions, but make them your slave. It takes time and practice with humble obedience to learn this.

You can do it because Christ is with you. He is with all of us, always.

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Cyril of Alexandria: Cut off from compassion and care

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. Luke 16:19-21

“Let us look at the pride of the rich man puffed up for things of no real importance; “He was clothed, it says, in purple and fine linen,” that is, his study was to deck himself in beautiful attire, so that his raiment was of great price, and he lived in never-ceasing banquetings; for such is the meaning of his feasting every day: besides which it adds that he feasted sumptuously, that is, prodigally.

All the luxury therefore of that rich man consisted in things of this sort: in clothing clean, delicate, and embroidered with linen, and dyed with purple, so as to gratify the eyes of beholders. And what is the result? Differing but little from the figures in statuary and painting, the rich man is indeed admired by those who are destitute of sense, but his heart is full of pride and haughtiness: he has high thoughts of himself and is boastful, and while there is nothing of excellence in his mind, he makes variously colored hues a reason for his empty pride.

His delight is in expensive banquets; in music and revellings; he has numerous cooks, who labour to provoke gluttony by carefully prepared meats: his cupbearers are beautifully attired; he has singing men and singing women, and the voices of flatterers. Such were the things in which the rich man lived; for the disciple of Christ certifies us. saying, “that all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of the world.”

Meanwhile Lazarus, bound fast by sickness and poverty, was cast down, He says, at his gate. For the rich man dwelt in lofty halls, and spacious mansions nobly built: whereas the poor man was not so much laid as cast down, thrown there in neglect, and not deemed worthy of any account. Cut off from compassion and care, he would have liked, to satisfy his hunger, have gathered the worthless morsels that fell from the rich man’s table.

He was tormented moreover by a severe and incurable malady: “Yes, even the dogs, it says, licked his sores,” and that, as it seems, not to injure him, but rather, so to speak, as sympathizing with him, and tending him: for with their tongues they allay their own sufferings, removing with them that which pains them, and gently soothing the sore. But the rich man was more cruel than the beasts; for he felt neither sympathy for him nor compassion; but was full of all mercilessness.”

Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) in Commentary on St. Luke, Sermon CXI (From the Syriac. MS.12,154).

I hope you like the new header photo on my final day in Alexandria. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I got to spend time outside with dear fellow servants, Adel, Ereny, Sylvia, and Feda, who serve the broken and hurting with AYC.

By the time this posts, I will be on the long journey home. In a way, we are all on the same journey, for in this parable the rich man and Lazarus both made it to their eternal home.

Where will you end up?

Many, like Lazarus, are “cut off from compassion and care” because riches have tempted the wealthy to focus only on finery and feasting at holiday times, rather than on people, and specifically, the poor around them.

Where do you find yourself in the full story (read Luke 16:19-31)?

As you read it, remember that the name Lazarus literally means “the one God has helped.” It should sober and shake people to realize that the eternal destination for the rich man and Lazarus was linked to what they did in this earthly life.

So what’s the lesson from Doctor Cyril today on generosity?

Use whatever you have to help the spiritually and materially poor. Don’t send help. Do what God did on the first Advent. Go to the broken and the needy.

What difference will your service make?

It will make a difference in every single person you serve for God’s glory. But there’s something much more important that will happen. It will shape your eternal destiny!

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Clement of Alexandria: Truly blessed

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

“It is not he who has and keeps, but he who gives away, that is rich; and it is giving away, not possession, which renders a man happy; and the fruit of the Spirit is generosity. It is in the soul, then, that riches are. Let it, then, be granted that good things are the property only of good men; and Christians are good. Now, a fool or a libertine can neither have any perception of what is good, nor obtain possession of it. Accordingly, good things are possessed by Christians alone. And nothing is richer than these good things; therefore these alone are rich. For righteousness is true riches; and the Word is more valuable than all treasure, not accruing from cattle and fields, but given by God — riches which cannot be taken away. The soul alone is its treasure. It is the best possession to its possessor, rendering man truly blessed.”

Clement of Alexandria (150-215) in Paedagogus (The Instructor), 3.6. He served as the instructor of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, helping teach God’s people in the Church to connect truth to everyday life.

Will you be rich this Christmas at year-end and in the new year?

I am not referring to how much money you will possess, but rather, how much you will give. We discover that righteousness is not serving as a container of God’s blessings but as a conduit. The instructor reminds us that only conducts are positioned to grasp true riches.

Offer what you have to Jesus, and receive the unimaginable in return.

As I have spent Advent in Alexandria and will return home shortly, I had make many sacrifices to come and serve. I had to do an enormous amount of work prior to the trip to be able to come “give all I have” on this trip. But, just as God promises, I find myself returning home not empty but enriched with unfathomable blessings.

I depart as a man who was privileged to bless many people. But in return, I’ve been rendered, as Clement would say, “truly blessed.”

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