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Giving Without Expectation

The more a person gives, the more a person reaps. No one knew this more than Jesus, for He had given his life freely, and by doing so, He ultimately reaped eternity.

Few commands are as bold, as eloquent and as simple as that given by Jesus, when He said:

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

There is great pleasure when giving generously not expecting anything in return. The people of the ancient city of Corinth knew this, and the Apostle Paul commended them for it. In spite of a severe test of affliction, they gave of their own accord according to their means and beyond (2 Corinthians 8:2-3). They even went so far as to beg Paul to partake in the relief of the saints, something he did not expect.

But how could a people have turned so quickly from their sins, for it was a short time ago that these same Corinthians were harboring adulterers in their midst?

The answer is God. They purged the sinners among them and gave themselves first to Christ, then to the will of God (verse 5). By doing so, they reaped the reward of God’s grace on their lives (verse 6). In other words, the ancient Corinthians were not looking to receiving anything at all, but it was by God’s generosity that grace fell upon them.

In the same way, we ought to live by giving fully to others as God has given to us, for we will then reap a reward especially prepared for us because we will have given without expectation.

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Knowing God

To know God is to keep His commandments. His commandments protect us from the penalty of sin. For sin is pleasing to the eyes, a treat to the senses, but stings as a scorpion, never diminishing the pain of its venom on the heart of its victim.

The Apostle John talks about knowing God this way:

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4)

Is it a wonder when Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:22-23) that He places high regard to knowing Him as a people who keep his commandments?

We are not workers of lawlessness. Knowing God is about doing what Jesus said, with a purity of heart and a spirit of humility. What we need is God’s heart in us. He will then change us to be more like Him, demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruits of His spirit will be evident, and Christ Jesus will not have an opportunity to say that He never knew us.

To know God is to keep His commandments.

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All for God’s Glory

All glory belongs to God. Whether we are eating, sleeping, walking, running, or even bathing, all of it is for God’s glory. As Christians, we do the things we do to honor God, not only in speech, but also in action. Everything we do should reflect our heart’s desire to please Him who created us.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was determined to have them remember how great is our God:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Wanting to seek glory for the self is a futile exercise. King Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived, said this in the book of Ecclesiastes, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:9, 11).

Glorifying the self is every human’s natural instinct. We have it within our hearts to want to be great. But when we give God the glory to everything we do, we suddenly have given our lives meaning. None of our deeds is for striving for the wind, but for God’s glory. For when we are giving God the glory, we are living our lives with purpose, and therefore, living the happiest.

Let us continue to do all things for God’s glory.

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Bless Your Enemies

There is no gain from hate. There is no growth from murder. Should Christians feel the need to take revenge for a slight, a wrong, perceived or otherwise, the command is clear:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

Jesus said this knowing fully well that His appointed time would require Him to give His life for the sins of others, bearing their cross and forgiving those who would torture Him, simply because He was telling the truth.

The expected reward for which a Christian would hope is not to suffer at the hands of others for doing good. However quite often, that is not the case. Quite often, in fact, we will suffer trials for the very good we do. And unlike what certain churches preach today, those same trials will be at the hands of our enemies.

It is in those occasions when Jesus’ words ring crisp. For how easy is it to love those who love us? But to love our enemies as ourselves requires God’s love to flow through us by the Holy Spirit so that it is not us receiving the glory for our forgiveness but God. And if we take a moment to see through the eyes of our enemies, we may understand their heart and take pity on them. For we, too, never knew the truth about forgiveness and about how it would free us from bitterness had God not shown it to us through Christ Jesus’ sacrifice.

Oh, how great the power of forgiveness truly is when we bless our enemies!

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Rejoice in God’s Presence

God is everywhere. He is among the flowers; He is among the trees; He fills the sky and beyond; He is here now, with us. In everything we do, God is there. For Christians, God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us is as sure as the coming of tomorrow. And if God is here with us now, at this very moment, what are we to do to acknowledge his presence?

The Apostle Paul answers this question like this:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

Paul continues to say in the next verse, “The Lord is at hand.” That is to say, God is near; we are to pray and give thanks, and then God’s peace will be our peace (v. 5-7).

For those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior, we have Jesus living inside of us. Knowing this, we have cause for great celebration with the Lord, for His spirit is powerful, just and righteous. No evil is too great that it can overtake us. No power is too strong that it can overwhelm us. And no spirit is higher than that of God’s spirit, comforting us in our time of need.

Our celebration is knowing God is here for us now and forever. When we raise our hands in praise, we are acknowledging His awesome love for us. When we pray, we are honoring Him for everything He has done for us. And when we thank Him, we are rejoicing in His presence.

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Praise Be to God

Rejoice and praise God, for He is good. He made the heavens and the earth, gave us dominion over all things under the sun, and blessed us with the power of His name. All glory belongs to Him. He has withheld nothing from us. His greatest gift, the gift of eternal life, He gave through His son Christ Jesus whom He sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins. Praise Him always.

Should we limit how we give thanks to God? The Psalms tell us otherwise:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

(Psalm 148:1-4)

God has shaped us into who we are, breathed into us life and has given us the desire in our heart to want to know Him. Our love for Him should be without ceasing, for in everything He does, He does because He loves us. There is no limit to God’s love, because God is love.

Whatever we are feeling, if we are sad, if we are angry, if we are hurt, God is there, waiting to comfort us. Our prayers are as incense to Him. They rise to the heavens and fill his throne with the sweet aroma of our praise.

Let us rejoice always for knowing our heavenly Father is there for us. Praise be to God.

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The Heart of God

What would it be like to have the heart of God? What would it be like to know Him, fully and completely, without boundaries and without end? Would we act as we do today, with restraint in our step and caution in our tongues? Loving God is knowing God. If we love Him, we will do His will and we will know Him. His heart will then be our heart, and we will no longer hold back from proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God.

The prophet Jeremiah, who was still a youth when God called him, said this about God’s children:

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

When God imparts the Holy Spirit into someone, He has imparted His heart into that person. This means that you and I, regardless of race, gender, culture, or otherwise, if God has chosen us and begotten us with His spirit, He then lives in us.

The prophet Ezekiel describes it this way:

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

God wants nothing but good for his people. God wants Christians to know He loves them, will provide for them, and will bless them in everything they do. In everything we do, the heart of flesh that God has imparted in us will lead us to do His will in spite of the temptation that surrounds us.

This is what it is like to have the heart of God.