Blessings

The Gift of Generosity

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25 We discussed the importance of secrecy and reward yesterday, and we concluded that it’s acceptable to be motivated by Heavenly blessing and reward when we choose to relate to Jesus privately, without the attention or confirmation of others. Today, I want to go a step further and suggest that public giving and ministry are not entirely without blessings. I get up and pray in front of the crowd several times in my church, and this isn’t a bad thing. Jesus’ ministry had a highly public face, and He was always teaching and praying for people. This was a major blessing, but He also made sure to set aside specific times to talk to His Father since that was the ultimate reward; He needed those energizing moments to keep moving forward in His mission. Individuals have given

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The Blessings in Secrecy

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:5,6 Today, let’s dive into the importance of rewards. The notion of doing good with the desire of being rewarded appears throughout Scripture, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. Unlike modern Western culture, Jews at the time of the Bible’s authoring fully embraced the power of receiving gifts from God as motivation to do the right thing, especially when it came to relating to Him and doing things in His name.  Surprisingly, secrecy is consistently

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Trust God’s Heart

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” – Psalm 112:7 As we have learned about the winter and wilderness seasons, as well as King David’s life, we’ve come to the understanding that difficult times often bring mixed blessings and that they always serve a purpose. I have a few practical tips that can help you better manage these difficult times in your life, which will surely occur. First and foremost, avoid asking too many questions. It’s natural to want to know why something bad is happening to us, so we ask questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” “What does this mean?” or “What does this mean?” While I don’t want you to feel bad about asking those questions, I do want to reassure you that you don’t need to know all the answers. Whenever something bad happened to our

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History’s Cornerstone

“For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’” – 1 Peter 2:6 Today I have some excellent news for you: things may be becoming darker, but you’re becoming brighter. Even if the days are becoming colder, you’re getting warmer, because I think God works His greatest miracles in our lives when we’re at our lowest. Because of One Man, who changed the path of history from the moment of His birth, redemption is attainable. Everything changed in year zero, as you can see. The two epochs of human history, BC and AD, center around one thing: Christmas. Although BC stands for “Before Christ,” we can refer to it as “Before Christmas” for our purposes because it essentially implies the same thing. Year one corresponds to the birth of Jesus,

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God Gives More

“When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.” – 2 Chronicles 20:24,25 As we wrap up our discussion about Jehoshaphat and the victory God granted the nation of Judah under his reign, I want to leave us with one final thought — when we wait for Him, the Lord always gives us more. Not only does He fight our battles so we remain safe, but He pours blessings into our lives lavishly. It’s interesting that when the Jewish soldiers arrived

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Leprosy of the Soul

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” – Ephesians 5:5 If I were to ask you, “What’s the opposite of gratitude?” — what would you say? If you answered ingratitude, you wouldn’t be wrong, but I think there’s a more accurate way to describe it, and that’s entitlement. Unfortunately, we live in a society that’s filled with people who feel they deserve instant gratification, free stuff, endless entertainment, and a hassle-free life. However, I want to submit to you that the greed underlying this outlook is actually a kind of leprosy of the soul. Just as the disease eats away at the flesh of its victims until there’s little left, so a person who feels as if the world owes them is being destroyed from the inside out by

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A Magnet For Miracles

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 1:14 Years ago, I wrote a book in which I said, “A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.” And now, having lived even longer, I’m more convinced of this truth than ever! When we give someone a gift — perhaps we go to a store to invest a good amount of time picking out just the right item — and our efforts are met with an enthusiastic response, it stokes our desire to keep giving. In fact, knowing that blessing another person brings them joy, we’re inspired to do more of the same. And if this is true for us, how much truer is it for the Lord? He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and every resource is at His disposal. When we live from a place of

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Don’t Forget To Say Thanks

“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’” – Luke 17:17,18 Yesterday, we learned about a special ceremony that was held in honor of those who were healed from leprosy. However, even after this ritual cleansing, any leper seeking to be reintroduced into society had to stay on the outskirts of town for another eight days, just to be sure. In the interest of not infecting anyone else, they slept outside, and before they showed themselves to the priest one last time, they were required to shave off every bit of their hair — from head to toe. Once they had been thoroughly examined and finally declared clean, they took a bath, offered a sacrifice, and received fresh clothes. After that, they were allowed to go home to their families and communities. And this

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God’s Word is For Everyone

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.” – Luke 17:15,16 Yesterday, we looked at the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus met as He was traveling along the border of Samaria, between Galilee and Jerusalem. When they cried out to Him for mercy, He gave them instructions to go and show themselves to the priest, even though they weren’t immediately healed. As they obeyed His directive and started walking, they were restored somewhere along the way. Interestingly, something that we frequently miss in this account is that one of the men was a Samaritan. While this may not seem significant to us today, back then, it was like saying that one of them was a member of a violent gang or a hate group. This is

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It’s a Matter of Gratitude

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 We talked yesterday about being a more enthusiastic and outgoing person and how it can lead us to good things in life. Today, I want to delve deeper into the manner in which this happens, and I believe it boils down to one word — gratitude. The more thankful we are, the more we develop the qualities that make us successful, since all good fruit grows from within. We can’t really “will” ourselves into attitudes and behaviors, because unless they are rooted in genuine love for Jesus, they won’t last. The measure to which we enjoy life correlates directly to the amount of genuine gratitude we have for who our Savior is and what He has done. This is why, when we begin to understand how perfectly He cares for us,

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