Daily Devotional – Spirit of Overflowing Generosity

Today we look at Generosity, from a Christian perspective. There are many in this world who are generous with their time, talents or money (many celebrities  and George Soros immediately come to mind). However unless these folks are specifically doing this for God’s glory they are vainly doing it. In others words their deeds, their acts are not considered good. 


 

GIVING like the Macedonian churches gave | My Five Loaves and Two Fish

2 Corinthians 8:2

AMP and RVR 1960

 


CONTEXT:

The church at Corinth has been greatly complimented by Paul at the end of chapter 7:12-16 because of the joyful outstanding report he received from Titus.

Paul suddenly shifts gears in Chapter 8:1 to the  Macedonian churches and how God’s Grace was used to have the abundantly provide for Paul and others v.3-6. Paul next v.7 brags about the Corinth Church for all their fine qualities; in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in genuine concern, and in your love for us; then challenges them to excel in generosity also. 


BREAKDOWN: (KJV)

How that in a great trial of affliction – First century CHristianity was no joke, it was in many was “The Voice of the Martyrs” on steroids. Although not technically illegal, many local laws highly discouraged churches from meeting (SOUND FAMILIAR?) and believers were discouraged from attending by many means including  reproaches, persecutions, imprisonments, confiscation of goods.

the abundance of their joy – So of course these churches disbanded gave up and went back to paganism. NOT! ! ! No the reveled (think how you would react?) in the persecution and were full of JOY!

and their deep poverty –  Oh and lest I forget, these folks were not from the rich and famous class to begin with. There were, have always been and are a few well off folks that are among the church; but it seems as we read the Bible and experience shows “Tried and True Christians” are those of lesser means.

abounded unto the riches of their liberality. – Yet even so they gave freely abundantly and with joy. Today it is hard to get folks to tithe on a regular manner never mind gave freely abundantly and with joy.


APPLICATION:

The Churches at Macedonia and Corinth should be an example for us (corporately and individually to follow. Using their example we can cultivate a Spirit of Overflowing Generosity. Let me explain, by listing the example they displayed: 

in faithIf you call yourself a Christian you need to believe as a Christian. Things are going to get tough at times and that is when we display our true colors

in speech, Trust me when I say the world (unsaved) are listening. Let one curse slip and they are quick to point out “I thought you called yourself a Christian.” Your walk and Talk need to be in the same.

in knowledge, I have met an abundance of “Christians” who do not have a clue about what the Bible actually says. Many can quote scripture better than those that wrote the books; but they do not take the time or effort to study.

 in genuine concern, What are you concerned for? If “you or self” is not on the bottom of the list your priorities are messed up. Yes there are times when we need to take care of ourselves; but generally God, Family, Job, Ministry all take priority. 

in your love for us (others)Do you really love your neighbor? Are you willing to do for the least of these

in generosity; Do you give, (this implies money) money, time, or other resources to further to Kingdom? 

We wholeheartedly give to others because Christ so generously gave to us! 

Have you cultivated your Spirit of Overflowing Generosity today? 

Other Resources:

The Greatest Commandment: The Very Heart of the Matter

Generosity PDF’s

Generosity Web Pages

Generosity Audio Files

Daily Devotional – Suffered A While

1 Peter 5:10 – Kisha's Daily Devotional

1 Peter 5:10 (AMP and RVR 1960) 


BACKGROUND:

Some of y’all maybe old enough to remember the song Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, By Linda Ronstadt that was released back in 1977 and later covered in 2009 by Terri Clark in 1996. It is the story of a young singer who heads to Hollywood to make her fortune only to run into the manipulating men running the industry at the time. Here are the lyrics, out of this suffering and abuse somes a story that she just has to tell, in this case by way of a song. 

So too, as Christians, we must be every ready to tell the stories God has given us.

First of course is the Gospel story, this is NOT our testimony it is all about GOD. One of the best summaries of the Gospels I have found is from John Piper, A Six-Point Summary of the Gospel, is easy to remember and simple to communicate. 

Second as Ms. Ronstadt song portrays we need to tell our personal (testimony) story, 1 Peter 3:15.


CONTEXT:

Peter ends his 1st epistle by addressing the church body in two elements, first the elders 1 Peter 5:1-4, and then the younger or more immature believers 1 Peter 5:5-9.

To the elders he exhorts them and encourages them to be strong leaders for the flock they have been given charge of by God’s decree.

To the body of believers, he says LISTEN to your elders, obey them (as long as they are giving command that are biblical), be humble, persevere and cast your woes upon Christ.


BREAKDOWN:

And after you have suffered a little while,  Christians have been promised suffering. WHAT?  I am not going to list the many verses found in the NT alone but here is one example Acts 14:22 …“It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

the God of all grace, Christians have been promised God will intervene, for it is nothing but the Grace of God that will suffice to overcome trials and tribulations

who has called you He will intervene for those whom He has called, 2 Timothy 1:9 and choosen Matthew 22:14 

to his eternal glory in Christ, We have been called not for earthly purposes (yet we are to accomplish things until our time ends here) but for eternal glory in Christ 

will himself Eternity with GOD will be amazing, beyond our comprehension. Peter mentions four things that will happen to us in eternity.

Okay, I want to deviate (JUST A LITTLE), as we look at them and and think for a moment when we have come out of a difficult time of suffering.

restore, The King James says “perfect us” God will make us whole physically, mentally and spiritually.  

confirm, or settle the union of Christ in and with us in glory

strengthen, Both our resolve and any area which we were weak will be gone as we are hence completely renewed in glory 

and establish you. that is to place all our focus and being upon the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega. Our only “mission” in Glory will be to glorify the King Revelation 22:1-5


APPLICATION:

We have set forth and established 3 things today:

    1. Christians will suffer on Earth
    2. Christians need to be ready to tell the Gospel Story and their own testimony
    3. God has promised Eternal Glory in Christ to all His called and chosen

 

I asked however to look at applying the 4 components of 1 Peter 5:10 to when we have come out of a difficult experience. Even though Peter is referring to future Glory, remember how you felt complete, confirm, strengthen, and established, fully renewed and invigorated in the Lord after coming through a rough patch? That my friends is your Poor, Poor Pitiful Me song. Your testimony, that needs to be shared when someone asks ‘what has God done for you lately.’  

 

Take Heart

Some “Christians” think they are exempt from suffering and tribulations. This is not what Christ said, in fact if you are not “suffering” for your faith Romans 8:18James 1:2-41 Peter 5:10 its probably time to check if your faith is real. But Glory to God, Christ has overcome this world and we can find peace and comfort in Him.

Logos.com

Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

 Estas cosas os he hablado para que en mí tengáis paz. En el mundo tendréis aflicción; pero confiad, yo he vencido al mundo.


Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture

John – PEACE AND VICTORY – John 16:33.

Today in Church History

Yield or Suffer Said Diocletian

Yield or Suffer Said Diocletian

Who was Emperor Diocletian?

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus’ other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus. Diocletian’s reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. He appointed fellow officer Maximian as Augustus, co-emperor, in 286. Diocletian reigned in the Eastern Empire, and Maximian reigned in the Western Empire.

statue of Diocletian
Statue of Diocletian
Roman Reform

As Barbarians menaced the Roman empire, Emperor Diocletian instituted a number of reforms aimed at saving the sprawling political entity. He reorganized the provinces and made the army more mobile while increasing its size. To battle inflation, he issued a new coinage, established a uniform system of taxation and implemented wage-price controls.

Christian Persecution

Recognizing that the empire was too large for a single man to rule, he divided it into four administrative units. In doing this he raised to power a man who did Christians much harm. This man, Galerius, instigated by his mother (a die-hard pagan) prodded the Emperor to persecute the Christians. With their new customs, Christians were a threat to imperial unity, he said; and their vast, well-knit organization was the largest non-governmental body ever seen. Surely they could not be trusted: their loyalty was to King Jesus rather than to Caesar. Diocletian, who for eighteen years had never lifted a finger against the faith, followed this wicked advice. The crackdown began on this day, February 23, 303.

The persecutors dragged off church leaders and tortured them to death, employing the rack, the scourge, slow fires, crucifixion, and many other barbarities against them. They burned Christian books and scriptures. Many Christians died deaths of great courage. Theodotus, for example, after terrible tortures said as he was being led back to prison, “It is but just that Christians should suffer for Him who suffered for us all.”

Divine Resilience 

Timothy, a deacon in Mauritania, allowed his eyes to be put out with red-hot irons rather than reveal the hiding place of scriptures. His wife of just three weeks was then brought in and she attempted to persuade him to recant for love of her. He refused. Growing stouthearted, she joined him. After horrendous torture, both were crucified.

In the end, it was the church which won the showdown. All the powers of Rome could not crush its allegiance to Christ. Even Galerius eventually left off the persecution. In 311, the dying emperor issued an edict of toleration. Christians had outlasted the might of the empire. Their resistance to arbitrary power was instrumental in winning the right to follow their Christian faith.

 

Worshiping in Pain

The Master's Seminary Blog

Worshiping in Pain

Brian Fairchild | 

It’s difficult to recall the number of perplexed looks I’ve received over the past two-and-a-half years as I have explained to people my doctoral research project. Some have mused that wrestling with lament for this long must be disheartening.

I have experienced the opposite.

My intrigue with lament in the psalter was born from deep grief in my life. I was struggling to adore God with my soul while my wife and I were wading through a miscarriage, the loss of a child that had long been anticipated and prayed for. As this season of struggle continued in my life, it became obvious my trials were not unique. It became apparent that most in our church were in pain, in some form or another. The psalms of lament became something of a somber, unifying anthem for my congregation and I.

Nothing is more helpful to the human soul than to grasp theology that bears immediate impact. As hurting people surrounded by hurting people, our hearts should yearn to connect the Word of God to the hearts of His people. (Emphasis Mine) In a culture of consumerism and neo-positivity, the psalms of lament bring a refreshing balance of reality to our lives as we seek to treasure God from the darkest of valleys.

I would offer the following encouragement to consider revisiting the psalms of lament:

Psalms of lament ground the church theologically

In the psalms of lament, we encounter life and theology in their most raw forms. When the trials of life strike, there is no room for useless theological banter. Sorrow forces us to come to grips with the realities of this world and, more importantly, the beauty and benevolence of the God who reigns.

Reading the psalms of lament is a massive theological distillation process. All the hypotheticals or wrongly held beliefs are stripped away by the shockingly honest heart cries of the psalmist. They expose both man and God for who they are. Theology is too often relegated to musty seminary halls or to the dwindling minds of introverts, but theology belongs in the darkness and pain of life.


The psalms of lament remind us that theology is satisfyingly real


People need this brand of theology coursing through their veins, and so do pastors. So dwell on them, use them to cry out to the Lord, and care for others with them.

Psalms of lament make you a better shepherd

I recently conducted a survey among my church members. I was humbled by the results. Sixty-five percent of my church family indicated they were currently facing a trial in their life. How could I not have known this? I was hurt by my own deficiencies as a shepherd. These are the people I love most; they were hurting, and I knew nothing of the majority of their pain. As a congregation, we began to work our way through the psalms of lament. Sorrow found its way into worship, and more and more hurt began to become evident within our church family. People became less afraid to speak of their struggles. Deep and slow healing began to course through the veins of my church.

The psalms of lament open the hearts of people; they direct the cries of the people to the throne of God; and they help shepherds become more aware of hurting sheep.

Psalms of lament prepare you and your church for the inevitable


We live in a fallen world with expectations only Heaven can satisfy.
Don’t underestimate the danger this poses


If we are not feeling the effects of this broken world now, we soon will be. How can we sustain worship when life becomes difficult, if not impossible? The psalms of lament fortify those who are momentarily happy for the inexpressible brokenness life so assuredly will bring. We are not fulfilling our role as shepherds if we do not prepare our people with an honest assessment of life and care for their needs in their hours of pain.

Jesus Himself prepared His disciples for tribulation and trials; should we not follow His example? What better way to care for others than with the theologically sorrowful, insightful psalms of lament? Prepare people for pain with the Psalms.

Psalms of lament focus people solely upon God

If we as pastors could focus our people’s attention on one object, to give them one driving passion, what would it be? I think we would all agree that “thing” would be the glories and majesty of God. Certainly, all of Scripture points us to the admiration of God. But there are times, if we are honest, that our expositions of long books of the Bible can lose their focus. This is the fault of our exposition, not the content of Scripture. It is a wake-up call that we are struggling in our preaching to focus our people on the glory of God.

When we circle around frequently (as I believe we should) to preaching the psalms of lament, we are forced to focus on the glory of God. Lament strips away our focus on lesser things and draws us to the Great Comforter. The Psalms of lament offer its readers inerrant dosages of the glory of God within the context of suffering.


To lament is to be human; to worship with lament
is the mandate and provision of the Divine King


Connecting the glory of God to the suffering of His people seems a difficult task for the shepherd, but there is a reason these Psalms are included in the sufficient Word of God. As we read the Psalms, may our hearts be softened, His people strengthened, and God exalted as supreme.

To learn more about everything from hermeneutics to homiletics, see our guide: Handling Scripture.

[Editor’s note: This post was originally posted in May, 2018 and has been updated.]


Corporate Worship and the Psalms

Worship God Through the Psalms

Learn the importance of the Psalms in worship with Phil Webb, Matt Boswell, Tom Pennington, Ligon Duncan, Bob Kauflin, Steve Lawson, and more in a self-paced, interactive format.

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Today in Church History

Cause for Waldensian Rejoicing

Cause for Waldensian Rejoicing

In the evening of February 16th each year, jubilant Italians light bonfires on mountainsides in northern Italy. These are a harbinger of joyous worship services and festivities which fill the following day. The Waldenses have reason to be glad. This day, February 17th, marks the anniversary of the day in 1858 when they finally received a guarantee of civil and religious rights.

Relief had been long in coming. The Waldensian saga began in 1176. A rich merchant, Peter Waldo, heard the words of Christ to the rich young ruler, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you posses and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Waldo determined to do just that. He provided for his wife, placed his daughters in a nunnery, sold his property and distributed it among the poor.

His first effort was to hire two priests to translate parts of the scriptures into French. Memorizing large portions of this, he began to preach among the people, urging them to imitate Christ’s voluntary poverty. As quickly as he made followers he sent them out by twos with the scriptures and his message of poverty. Disgusted with voluptuous Rome, the Waldensians denounced virtually all Catholic feasts as man made. They rejected the Catholic sacraments except absolution, confession and Eucharist. Like the Quakers of later years they refused to take oaths.

Altars, church buildings, holy water, indulgences and all the paraphanelia and trappings of the established church they renounced. They denied purgatory. The local archbishop, stung by the implied rebuke, excommunicated Waldo. Waldo appealed to Pope Alexander III. Alexander was sympathetic and said Waldensians could preach with the permission of local bishops. To Waldo’s regret, such permission was not forthcoming.

With or without permission Waldo and his followers continued to preach, converting souls over a wide area. Waldensianism became one of the most widespread non-conformist group of the Middle Ages. Its adherents were excommunicated and butchered. For 682 years they fled across Europe or hid in caves, persecuted, hunted, and exterminated like vermin. With the coming of the Reformation, many joined the Protestants. Survivors gathered in 1561 and pledged themselves to adhere to the scriptures. Eventually they were reduced by persecution to only a few thousand individuals. Allowed refuge in Switzerland, they pined for their homeland and in 1689 made a “glorious return.”

Not until the Italian revolutions of the mid-nineteenth century was the remnant, now dwelling in alpine valleys of the north of Italy, guaranteed common rights. After centuries of savage persecution, it is little wonder that the Waldensians celebrate their relief with bonfires, services and festivities.

Today in Church History

John Rogers, 1st of Many Martyrs

 

John Rogers, 1st of Many Martyrs

John Rogers burned to death at a stake at Smithfield, England on this Monday morning, February 4,1555. Among the onlookers who encouraged him were his own children. What monstrous crime had earned him this cruel death?

Born about 1500, Rogers was educated at Cambridge. He became a Catholic priest and accepted a position in the church at the time that the Protestant Reformation was in full swing. His conscience told him that certain teachings of his established Church were wrong and he resigned, moving to Antwerp, Holland, where he ministered to English merchants.

In Holland, he became friends with William Tyndale, a reformer who was translating the Bible into English. Tyndale converted Rogers to Protestant views and Rogers married. Nine months later, Tyndale went to prison; he would be executed as a heretic. But Tyndale left a precious manuscript in John Rogers’s keeping. This was his English translation of the books from Joshua to Chronicles which had not yet been printed.

Rogers was determined to see that Tyndale’s valuable work was not lost. For the next twelve months he labored to put together a complete Bible. Its text was based on Tyndale and Coverdale, and its two thousand notes were borrowed from the writings of dozens of different reformers who were active on the Continent.

Tyndale had been declared a heretic, and his name could not go on the Bible. Rogers could not honestly claim the work as his own, and so he used a pseudonym–Thomas Matthews. When Bishop Cranmer saw a copy of the new Bible, he was so excited that he asked Chancellor Thomas Cromwell to see if the king would license it. Henry VIII did, and the Matthew Bible became the first officially authorized version in the English language.

After sickly Edward VI became king of England, John Rogers returned from the continent, fetching his wife to England. He was given high positions in the Church of England. Regretably, he was one of those who agreed to burn poor, insane Joan of Kent to death (some of her claims were blasphemous). He was urged to show her mercy because some day he might need it himself, but did not listen.

Edward VI died. Mary, a Roman Catholic, became queen. John Rogers preached a stirring message, urging his congregation to remain loyal to Reformation principles. Mary’s Catholic bishops questioned him about this sermon, but he answered well and was released.

However, when a Catholic was appointed to speak at Paul’s Cross, churchgoers rioted. The Mayor was present and could not restore order. The mob attacked Bishop Bonner, an eminent supporter of Queen Mary. Rogers shouted to the crowd to calm down and helped hustle Bonner to safety. Although no harm was done, the Queen’s council was upset. They instructed the Mayor to prove he could keep order, or said he must give up his office. The Mayor arrested Rogers, the one who had saved Bonner’s life. Rogers spent over a year in prison, questioned several times about his beliefs by Lord Chancellor Stephen Gardiner.

According to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, when the sentence of death was passed, Rogers begged Gardiner to let him speak a few words to his wife. Gardiner refused, telling Rogers he was not legally married because he had once been a priest. However, as Rogers walked to the stake, singing psalms, he saw his wife at the roadside, holding their youngest baby, whom he had never met.

At the stake, Rogers was offered a pardon if only he would recant his beliefs and return to the Catholic church. He refused. The fire was lit and Rogers washed his hands in the flames as though he did not feel them. He was the first of many martyrs in Mary’s reign.

Today in Church History

Missionaries Kidnapped in Columbia

Missionaries Kidnapped in Columbia

“We had no idea we were living in a dangerous area,” said Tania Rich. “[W]e were just a normal couple doing what we thought we should with our lives.” That happened to be work with New Tribes Mission in the Kuna tribe on the Panama-Colombia border.

On this day, January 31, 1993, armed guerillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, entered the village of Púcuro, Panama. There they seized Tania’s husband and two other missionaries, and vanished with them into the night. Shortly afterward, Nancy Mankins, Tania Rich, and Patti Tenenoff learned that FARC had radioed the mission. The guerillas were demanding millions of dollars for the release of the three husbands, Dave Mankins, Mark Rich, and Rick Tenenoff.

Like many missions, New Tribes has a policy not to pay ransom for hostages. With over three thousand missionaries serving world wide, many in politically troubled areas, New Tribes fears that paying ransom will encourage kidnappings, putting all missionaries at increased risk. New Tribes radioed the guerillas that there was no money to meet their demands. The two sides continued to talk by radio for about a year. In January 1994, FARC broke off contact.

The long wait continued. For the families, the silence could mean anything. Were the men ill or well, alive or dead? Probably they were being moved from hideout to hideout–that had been the experience of other hostages. It was likely they were in danger from Colombia military gunships battling FARC, from jungle creatures, and from torrential rains. For the wives and children of the captured men, concern for their loved ones was only one throb in the persistent ache of loss.

Nancy’s children, Chad and Sarah, married. “Even up to the day of each wedding, we were hoping that he would get back to give his blessing,” she said.

According to Patti, her two youngest children can scarcely remember their father at all. “Each of the kids have a picture of them with Daddy. At bedtime the kids ask me to tell them something about Daddy. My son has said that he would go and stay with the guerillas just to be with Daddy.”

Jessica Rich had a favorite teddy bear named Cubby. “You know Mommy,” she told Tania, “I would give away all my toys, even Cubby, if it would bring Daddy back.”

New Tribes continued to negotiate quietly, hoping to bring about a happy ending. In 1997 there was a brief surge of hope when the Costa Rican government reported that a FARC official had confirmed that the hostages were alive and well. Other contacts corroborated this report, but then the silence returned.

Five years after the men were captured, their whereabouts and well-being was as uncertain as ever and there was no prospect of their release. James Rubin for the State Department of the United States said officials had “engaged the Colombian government at all levels to insist that they do all they can to determine the welfare and whereabouts of our American citizens.” New Tribes issued news releases and a bulletin calling for the captives’ release, for action by humanitarian organizations, and for prayer by Christians. Yet the ordeal dragged on. Not until 2001 did New Tribes receive eyewitness confirmation of the death of the men.

Today in Church (and U.S.) History

There are many (if not most today) that claim politics and religion have no place in the pulpit. History like this example, and so many more from world and especially our U.S. founding completely disagree. – Mike

Boston Preacher Mayhew Ignited Revolution

Boston Preacher Mayhew Ignited Revolution

As we witness the power of Islamic clergymen to sway masses of faithful Muslims, it reminds us of the impact religious ideas have had in our own history. Pope Urban preached a rousing sermon and launched the first crusade. John Knox urged discouraged Scottish rebels not to rely on their own arms but on God and the Scottish reformers took new heart. From his Boston pulpit, Jonathan Mayhew called for the repeal of the stamp act and the stamp riots followed.

Whatever one thinks of Jonathan Mayhew’s theology–it was so liberal that the Boston Association of Congregational Ministers would not admit him–no one can deny his influence on the American Revolution. Not only did he preach the sermon that led to the stamp riots, but he preached another which John Adams called “the spark that ignited the American Revolution.”

It was on this day, January 30, 1750 that Jonathan Mayhew preached his Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-resistance to the Higher Powers. In it he took to task those who used some words by Paul in the New Testament to argue that the colonists must obey King George III whether he was right or wrong. Paul had written that we are to obey authorities. They are instituted by God, serve God, and exist to do us good. We should obey not just for fear of punishment but for conscience’s sake.

“Here the apostle argues, that those who resist a reasonable and just authority, which is agreeable to the will of God, do really resist the will of God himself; and will, therefore, be punished by him,” said Mayhew. “But how does this prove, that those who resist a lawless, unreasonable power, which is contrary to the will of God, do therein resist the will and ordinance of God? Is resisting those who resist God’s will, the same thing with resisting God?”

“Common tyrants, and public oppressors, are not intitled to obedience from their subjects, by virtue of any thing here laid down by the inspired apostle.” To illustrate his point Mayhew raises a similar case. “Suppose God requires a family of children, to obey their father and not to resist him…Suppose this parent at length runs distracted, and attempts, in his mad fit, to cut all his children’s throats: Now, in this case, is not the reason before assigned, why these children should obey their parent while he continued of a sound mind, namely, their common good, a reason equally conclusive for disobeying and resisting him, since he is become delirious, and attempts their ruin?”

Mayhew’s lengthy, carefully reasoned sermon was printed and widely read in the colonies. Many Americans accepted its arguments. Among them were John Adams, James Otis, and Josiah Quincey, leaders of the revolution.

 

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Bernie Sanders marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Wednesday by urging Americans to “vigorously defend” the “constitutional right” to abort unborn babies.


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