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You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.
-2 Corinthians 9:11
On our wedding anniversary, my husband, Alan, gives me a large bouquet of fresh flowers. When he lost his job during a corporate restructure, I didn't expect this extravagant display of devotion to continue. But on our nineteenth anniversary, the color-splashed blossoms greeted me from their spot on our dining room table. Because he valued continuing this annual tradition, Alan saved some money each month to ensure he'd have enough for this personal show of affection.
My husband's careful planning exhibited exuberant generosity, similar to what Paul encouraged when he addressed the Corinthian believers. The apostle complimented the church for their intentional and enthusiastic offerings (2 Corinthians 9:2, 5), reminding them that God delights in generous and cheerful givers (vv. 6-7). After all, no one gives more than our loving Provider, who's always ready to supply all we need (vv. 8-10).
We can be generous in all kinds of giving, caring for one another because the Lord meets all of our material, emotional, and spiritual needs (v. 11). As we give, we can express our gratitude for all God has given us. We can even motivate others to praise the Lord and give from all God has given them (vv. 12-13). Openhanded giving, a lavish expression of love and gratitude, can demonstrate our confidence in God's provision for all His people.
Prayer for Today
Lord, please help us trust Your abundant love and generosity, so we can give to others as You so faithfully give to us. Amen.
But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.
Paul's Defense to Felix
One of my greatest simple pleasures is being awake when much of the rest of the world is asleep. Sometimes, it's intentional when I stay up late to read or watch a movie, or up early to head to the shelter to serve the homeless. Being up early every day to wake the teenagers always has my body in a very specific rhythm by summer's end, so I'm awake early and writing this overlooking Myrtle beach and listening to the waves. As I scan the beach, I'm reminded of a moment earlier this week.
My family and I are taking a little sabbath break. The boys are loving it. We took them for a walk a few days ago, and because they like to be busy, they brought their little sand shovels. On the way back, our oldest began dragging his shovel to make a line in the sand. He was careful to avoid most of the obstacles in his path. His legs are long and dinner was the destination, so he got well ahead. Our youngest trailed behind... following his line with dedication and precision, his eyes on the line he knew his big brother had made.
The earliest believers were known as "followers of the way." Like our Jewish forebears, we were known for a way of life, a life set out to us by way of example in Christ and his teachings. Our youngest looked up now and then to collect a special sea shell and admire the birds and the waves, but his path was clear and the way was marked. Our best walk as disciples of Christ is on the path. The early Church was known for generosity and compassion. They followed the Way. If we are to be known for those characteristics, our daily lives must more closely resemble following the line in the sand, even as we wander now and then.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to see the long line in the sand and to find it again and again as I wander the shore. Amen.
"For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed-a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" - Romans 1;17, NIV
"I don't believe in coincidences anymore!" Those were the words one of my seminary professors, Dr. Ben Johnson, said to me once. I can't remember exactly why he said it or what it was in reference to, but I do picture him saying it with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. I also remember him explaining that over time, he began to see the fingerprints of God at work in what he used to think were coincidences in his life. Now he believed that most of those "coincidences" were actually the handiwork of God. The only thing that changed over time was that now, with eyes of faith, he saw those coincidences differently.
Now I do not believe that God causes everything - that is not very sound theology. God alone is God, but the world is not some great computer program with all of the actions predetermined. God is working God's plans out, but there is certainly some degree of freedom in what happens, and in our response to what happens.
Recently I had conversation with a fellow Christian who shared with me some pretty amazing things that had happened in his life - things that he believed were directly related to God. I have to admit that even as a pastor, not many people actually talk that way very often to me. My natural tendency is to look for other more rational and plausible explanations for unusual events, rather than attributing them to God. But in listening to this person share what he believed happened in his life, I wonder if I might be missing something. In fact, I think it might be better to assume God is at work in my world, rather than assuming there is always some other explanation. Maybe that is part of what it means to "live by faith" - that we intentionally live each moment of each day looking for God. So, try it and "see."
Prayer for Today
All-seeing God, give us eyes of faith to see you at work this day. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Posted by: Rev. Dr. C. Gray Norsworthy AT 07:44 am