Imitating our Generous God

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I love to bless my kids, and at times have been generous to a fault. Once we were in a local department store when my daughter was little and she said to her friend, “My Mommy never lets me get anything, but my Daddy gets me anything I want!” Translation: Mom teaches me self-restraint; Dad’s a soft touch.

My consolation is that my Heavenly Father is generous. He loves to lavish his children with blessings. He promises to bless us when we meditate on and obey his word, when we take refuge in him and when we trust him. But he also promises to bless us when we’re generous to the poor.

… blessed is he who is generous to the poor. Proverbs 14:21

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17

God abounds in loving kindness. The gospel is the story of God’s generosity: He gave his Beloved Son, a fount of a thousand blessings, to enrich bankrupt sinners. The whole earth displays God’s lavish character. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide, almost 28,000 known kinds of fish, and approximately 40,000 species of spiders, most of whom are in my basement. God didn’t merely create red, yellow and blue – he created alizarine crimson and saffron and periwinkle. He’s profuse, bountiful, extravagant, and open-handed.

And when we’re generous it brings him delight because he sees his own liberality shining through us.

God repays us when we give freely, but he may not bless us in the way we expect. He may fill our souls with joy. He may open our children’s hearts to him or he may heal us. Hey, I’ll take these things. If you water others, God will water you, and when God waters, he drenches.

Believers should be the most generous people on earth. Give something to someone in need this week, then wait for God to surprise you. Check out Covenant Mercies at www.covenantmercies.org for a great place to start.

Blazing Highlight Reel

Have you read these posts?

What Have You Accomplished?

I like accomplishments. I like reading biographies of people who have accomplished great things. I enjoy sifting through news articles to find the ones about people who have done something amazing. The Guinness Book of World Records fascinates me. It amazes me to read about the man who typed the most books backward, or about the woman with the longest hair in the world…

God Humiliated Me By Choosing Me

My watch is precious to me. Okay, that sounded a bit too much like Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings”. But it’s true, I really do need my watch. I like to know the precise hour and minute so that I can be on time for meetings. I like to know what day of the month it is, and I like to use the timer function for taking power naps. Without my watch I feel somewhat lost, which is why I went into semi-panic when I recently lost my watch…

The Man Who Wouldn’t Salute

The photo captured hundreds of ship workers in the act of saluting. But near the middle, and slightly off to the right, one man could be seen not saluting. This “Man Who Would Not Salute” was Wolfgang’s father, standing there with his arms crossed in defiance of Hitler…

Motorcycle Underwear

I don’t realize my fatal mistake until one of my older, cooler teammates says, “What’s on your underwear?” I play dumb, acting as if I don’t know what he’s talking about. Then he nails me. “There’s motorcycles on your underwear! Hey guys check this out, Stephen’s wearing motorcycle underwear.” I try to play it off as funny but it doesn’t work. I’m embarrassed and my face burns with shame. Needless to say, I never wear the motorcycle underwear again…

My Love For Jesus Stinks

CandleIt’s time for a little heart-to-heart, Stephen to [insert your name, address, and credit card #] confession: my love for Jesus stinks. Honestly, that’s how it feels right now. For the past month-and-a-half my devotional times have stunk. I sit down to read my Bible, and within minutes I’m distracted. I’m thinking about March Madness (my bracket is a mess), about this blog, about projects at work, and about my little girl Charis, who I can hear stirring in her crib. I look up to the ceiling and I can actually see my prayers bouncing back at me. At least that’s what it feels like. It’s really frustrating. Can you relate to me?

But honestly, I’m not discouraged. Why? Because I see desire in my heart. I really do want to love Jesus. I really do want to treasure his word, and delight in prayer, and love the Lord with all my heart. And that brings me great comfort. Sure my love for Jesus stinks right now, but there’s a spark of love, and that’s not from me. Sparks come from God.

Jesus doesn’t blow out sparks of love. That’s sweet news to this smoldering heart. Matthew 12:20 says:

a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench…

Right now it feels like my love for Jesus is nothing more than a smoldering wick. Jesus is the one who breathes new flame into a smoldering wick. He was the one who lit the flame of love in my heart, and he’s the one who will keep it alive. Sweet news for faint-hearted folks like me.

So here’s my prayer: Jesus set my heart aflame with love for You! I want to love you with all my heart, but right now I’m cold. Change me, cleanse me, and renew me. Renew again the joy of my salvation. Thank you that you promise to do this.

Help me out here. What encouragement do you have for me? What encourages you when your love for Jesus is nothing more than a smoldering wick?

Fan Your Love For Jesus Into A Flame

Questions, questions, questions. Everybody asks me questions.

Airport security people ask me questions: “Has your luggage been in your possession since leaving home?” “Have you been approached by anyone to carry a package?” “Did you pack your bags?” You don’t want to try to be funny with airport people. You don’t want to say, “No, actually they were packed by a stranger I met at the gun shop yesterday.” They probably won’t be laughing as they’re cuffing you.

Game shows ask me questions. “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?,” “So You Want to be a Millionaire,” and more. I’d like to see one called “Are You Nerdier than a Home-Schooler?” Hey, back off home school people, I’m just kidding – Stephen was home schooled and look at him. On second thought, don’t.

“Jeopardy” actually gives the answers and contestants have to supply the questions. For example the “Answer” might be: “The French military leader who met his final defeat at Waterloo on June 18, 1815.” And we all know the Question: “Who is Napoleon Dynamite?”

After his resurrection, Jesus asked Peter the most piercing question in the world: “Do you love me?”

Before Jesus was crucified, proud Peter swore he’d never deny Christ, then disowned him three times. So after he rose, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” He didn’t ask Peter if he was a good person, or if he believed in God or did good things. He asked Peter if he loved him.

Do you love Jesus? This is the most important question in the world. I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately.

My love for Jesus falls far short of what I’d desire. It grieves me to think about how weak and pitiful my love for Jesus is. But I’m so glad that Jesus doesn’t quench even a smoldering wick. If there is one true spark of love for him he can fan it into a flame. And if we’re concerned about our poor love for Christ, that’s a good thing, for unbelievers don’t love him at all and aren’t even bothered by it. It’s a mark of a believer to desire to love Jesus more.

How can we cultivate love for Jesus? Here are a few thoughts:

Think on the cross. Think of what it cost Jesus to bring you to God. He underwent infinite humiliation in becoming human. He withstood Satan’s worst temptations. He accepted rejection, mocking, scourging, and crucifixion. He drank the cup of God’s fury against sin for you. How can we not love Jesus for all he endured for us?

Think on all Jesus has done for you. He’s rescued you from your sins, cleansed you with his blood, and brought you to God. He’s had mercy on you, revealed himself to you, given eternal life to you.

Think of all Jesus continues to do for you.
He intercedes for you, blesses you, bears with you, encourages you, protects you, speaks to you, answers your prayers, helps you, fills you with joy. We have so many reasons to love him.

Finally, pray, and ask Jesus to fill you with love for him. He loves to answer this prayer.

How about you? How do you seek to cultivate and fan into flame your love for Jesus?