It is Better to Give…

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Scripture: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35)

Observation: Paul is in Ephesus, on his way to Jerusalem. He has reminded the Ephesians that he has worked hard with his own hands in order not to be a burden on them.  Why did Paul do this? He certainly believed that a worker deserved his wages (1 Tim. 5:18).  Paul did this to model generosity and also to free up their resources to be generous to others.  Paul’s sacrificial gift to them allowed them to experience the blessing of giving to others.

Application:  We’ve heard this saying, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” But it’s not just a saying.  I know it to be true in my life.  I’ve experienced first hand the joy of giving to people – to my kids, to the needy, to homeless people, and to the church.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling that you get when you realize you’ve made a difference in someone’s life!  So this causes me to wonder.  Why don’t I do it more?  Is it fear? Is it selfishness?  Probably both.  But today’s reading is simply a reminder to me that neither is a good motivation.  First Fear – God promises to provide everything I need… so what do I have to fear?  And Second Selfishness – Jesus says it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I actually rob myself of the blessed joy of giving when I hoard things for myself.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to truly take to heart this message of Christ that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.  Thank you that Christ gave all He had for me – His very life.  May I be more like Christ in my generosity.  Amen.

The Humility of Job

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Scripture: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
    may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)

Observation: When we want to think of an example of unjust suffering, besides our Lord perhaps, the Old Testament character Job is the name that first comes to mind.  The extent of Job’s loss and suffering is profound!  Having lost all his possessions and children in one day, Job is dealt a devastating blow that would likely send any of us into a deep depression.  However, Job’s response is astonishing.  At this time of deep loss and suffering, Job clings to an undeniable truth; one that is good for us all to keep in mind – whether in plenty or in want (as Paul suggests in Philippians 4:12).  The truth that Job exclaims is simply put – the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Wow.  That is true, and we are certainly ready to profess it when we are receiving from the Lord’s hand, but to proclaim it when the Lord has taken away? That is amazing… and yet something we need to do!

Application: How many things in my life do I take for granted?  How willing is my heart to profess God’s goodness when He is showering blessings upon me?  That’s the easy part.  Job is reminding me today that I must recognize God and thank Him just the same when He seems distant and I am suffering.  I must praise the Name of the Lord even when it appears that He has withdrawn His hand from me.  Difficult to do, but necessary – and perhaps for this very reason:  The book of Job shows us, with a clarity we don’t often see, that God has His hand at work even in the times of our trouble.  Job makes clear for us that God is well aware of our suffering (see Job Ch. 1 as God is not only aware, but gives Satan permission to harass Job!) – and that He is even present in it!  If I am to praise God for anything, let me not just praise Him for the blessings that come from His hand, but let me praise Him that His hand is always with me!

Prayer: Lord, thank you that through Job, I am reminded that you are present at all times and to be praised!  May I praise you not only when you are giving, but even when you are taking away.  May I praise your Holy Name even in the storms of life!  Amen.