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Thread: In step

  1. #1581
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    Truth is truth is truth

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 30:1-9

    "Keep falsehood and lies far from me '" (v.8)

    In today's world integrity is in short supply. I asked a successful businessman: "What would you say is the greatest need in your field of business?"

    He thought for a moment, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Integrity." I asked him why, and he said, "Almost daily I am faced with dishonesty and duplicity and whenever I confront it people take the view that dishonesty is only a problem when it is found out."

    It's interesting, however, that those who laugh at dishonesty get deeply upset when they are victims of it. I caught sight of this statement in one of my grandson's books: "An honest fisherman is a pretty uninteresting person." Another statement said, "There are two things essential if you are to succeed in business - integrity and sagacity. Integrity is keeping your word and sagacity is never giving your word."

    Is it any wonder that our young people find situational ethics so appealing? It is only fair to say, though, that despite the present-day trend away from honesty and integrity, there are still millions of people who would not claim to be Christians but nevertheless see it as their task to be honest, upright and decent.

    May their tribe increase! Christians who lack integrity hinder the progress of the gospel in this world and set the Christian message in a false light. Determine to be honest in thought and speech and act. Lay this down as a cornerstone of your life, especially you who are young, and begin building from there. Whatever you do, shun like a plague the teachings of the situational ethics people and admit no exceptions. Truth is truth is truth.

    Prayer:
    O God, You who are the Designer of the Great Design, help me to fit into it, mold my life by it and be fully surrendered to its purposes. If I run from truth, I run from myself, for I am made for truth. Keep me true, dear Lord. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

  2. #1582
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    Self-exploratory surgery

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 23:15-25

    "Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding." (v.23)

    Charles Swindoll tells how many years ago in New York a doctor by the name of Evan O'Neill became convinced that most major operations could be performed while patients were under a local anesthetic, thereby avoiding the risks of general anesthesia.

    On February 15th, 1921, he operated on himself and removed his appendix while under a local anesthetic. The operation was a success and it was said that he recovered faster than usually expected of patients who given general anesthesia.

    Today I invite you to undertake some self-exploratory surgery of the soul. While fully conscious and fully aware, allow the Holy Spirit to assist you by handing you the only instrument you need for soul surgery - the germ-free scalpel of Scripture. "The word of God is living and active.

    Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). This is not just an interesting idea, it is a required command of Scripture: "But let a man examine himself '" (1 Cor. 11:28, NKJV).

    In God's presence right now, ask yourself: Am I honest? Am I a person of integrity? Can my word be trusted? Remember, only you can do this surgery on your soul - only you. No one else but you knows the truth about yourself. You can rationalize and twist the facts and no one will know the difference - except you. And remember, too, there can be no wisdom without morality, no expertise in living without truth and honesty. The wise are those who have integrity.

    Prayer:
    Father, I realize that when truth is not within me there is as much pain as with a diseased appendix. Help me see this tension as Your protest. By Your Word, and through Your Spirit, right now cut away in me all that is untrue and dishonest. For Jesus' sake. Amen

  3. #1583
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    Honeysuckle Christians

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 11:25-31

    "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (v.25)

    We come now to what I consider to be a third pillar of wisdom - generosity. This subject, too, is a favorite theme of Proverbs. Today's text tells us that when we move out of ourselves and give to others, we too are refreshed.

    An old Welsh proverb says: "The greatest joy in giving is to be the one who gives." We must not take this to mean that we ought to focus on generosity because it brings rewards. Generosity that is exercized simply for the purpose of reward is not generosity.

    The reward comes as a by-product of giving. I have heard those who study questions of right and wrong pull today's text to pieces. They say that this (and similar statements found in the Word of God) make Christianity a form of sophisticated selfishness.

    Christians, they say, give to others because it makes them feel good, not because it is the right way to live. Christianity, they conclude, is an indirect form of selfishness. Well, we must admit that some Christians might look at things in this way but I imagine they are few and far between.

    I love the way Charles Harthern, a preacher of a bygone generation, described giving: "Some give like sponges - only when they are squeezed. Some give like Moses' rock - only when they are hit. True Christians, however, give like the honeysuckle - because they delight to give."

    That's the secret - giving because one delights to give. The generous hand must comes from a generous heart. If the heart is not generous, then however much the hand gives, there is no true generosity.

    Prayer:
    Gracious and loving heavenly Father, I ask for the blessing, not only of trust and integrity, but of generosity also. And I ask not just to get a blessing, but to give a blessing. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen

  4. #1584
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    Divine mathematics

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 11:16-24

    "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another with holds unduly, but comes to poverty." (v.24)

    What all the passages in Proverbs which talk about generosity are really teaching us is that selfishness short-circuits human happiness and that the route to joy is liberality - liberality with our talents, our treasure and our time.

    Today's text is, of course, difficult for some to accept because it violates all the rules of mathematics. How can it be that the more you give away the more you have? It doesnt seem logical! Well, let Lord Bertrand Russell, one of the greatest mathematicians of the century, comment on that: "Mathematics and logic have nothing to do with reality."

    David Rivett, a chartered accountant and one of the directors of CWR - Crusade for World Revival - says that since he has been with the organization he has found that God has a quite different arithmetic from what he as an accountant has been used to.

    For example - what do five and two make? Seven? Yes, in man's arithmetic, but not in God's. In God's arithmetic five and two make five thousand. How come? Well, five loaves and two fish - the little lunch which a boy once gave to Jesus - was taken by Him and turned into enough food to feed five thousand.

    And just to add to the point - twelve baskets of fragments were gathered up after everyone had eaten their fill! Nature, we are told, abhors a vacuum; it is the same in the spiritual realm. Liberality and generosity create a vacuum into which God flows, enabling us to give and to go on giving. I cannot explain it, but I have seen it happen again and again.

    Prayer:
    O God, You who are always reaching out to me in generosity and love, help me this day to do the same. May You use my generosity to touch the lives of others. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.

  5. #1585
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    Giving with a warm hand

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 22:1-9

    "A generous man will himself be blessed '" (v.9)

    Does being a generous person mean you will always have plenty to give away? Not necessarily. This would be a naive interpretation of the principle we are discussing. Certain other texts of Scripture have to be laid against these verses in Proverbs if we are to get a more complete picture of the truth under discussion.
    Some Christians cannot be trusted with a lot of money or earthly goods; they just would not know how to manage them. That said, it needs to be noted that you do not have to be rich to be generous. A pauper can give like a prince, providing he or she has the right spirit.

    An old Jewish saying puts it like this: "The man who gives with a smile gives more than the man who gives with a frown." It is the spirit of generosity that the Bible focuses on first of all - the spirit that gives, not because it wants to get but because it simply delights to give.

    Someone has defined generosity as "giving with a warm hand." I like that. Who likes to receive anything from a cold hand? As you know, the opposite of generosity is selfishness, and just as generosity is a facet of wisdom, so selfishness is a facet of foolishness.

    A teacher said to a class: "Unselfishness means voluntarily going without something you need. Can anyone give me an example?" A little boy raised his hand and said: "Yes, sometimes I go without a bath even though I need one." We smile, but how many of us do the same thing and turn a truth on its head to take the pressure off ourselves?

    Prayer:
    O God, help me to be a person who gives "with a warm hand." Melt any coldness and iciness there may be in my spirit and make me a magnanimous and generous person. Fire me with a passion to give. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.

  6. #1586
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    The generous eye

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 28:18-28

    "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing '" (v.27)

    We continue meditating on the subject of generosity. Not only Proverbs, but the Bible as a whole has a good deal to say on this subject, and one of the most powerful statements is made by Jesus in Matthew 6:22.

    Here is how Moffatt translates this fascinating and intriguing text: "' if your Eye is generous, the whole of your body will be illumined." "If your Eye" - that means your whole outlook on life, your whole way of looking at things - is generous, then your whole personality is filled with light. Jesus was generous toward all - the poor, the meek, the sinful, the unlovely - and His whole personality was full of light.

    When we are in touch with Jesus, the fount of all wisdom, then He generates that same generosity within us. We begin to see everyone and everything with the same generous eye. It is generosity that is at the heart of all good relationships. I have visited Sweden and Norway on many occasions and I often used to wonder why it is that the Swedes and the Norwegians have such brotherliness toward each other.

    They seem to have an unbreakable bond that ties them as one people. Then I discovered that many years ago, when Norway wanted to break free from Swedish control, the Swedish people responded to this - responded according to the Christian ethos that was behind the then ruling family.

    This generosity in giving freedom without war or bitterness created a basic soundness that now flavors all their contacts with one another. The generous eye fills the whole body of relationships with light. Generosity, like love, never fails.

    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, Your generous eye saw in me things I could never see in myself. Help me this day to lay generosity as the basis of all my dealings with everyone. May your generosity generate generosity in me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen

  7. #1587
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    Suppose ' just suppose '

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 3:19-35

    "Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; Ill give it tomorrow' - when you now have it with you." (v.28)

    The Bible fairly bulges with the truth that the generous generate generosity in others. When Ananias, a potential victim of Saul's spite and rage, put his hands on the stricken zealot and generously said, "Brother Saul," that generosity, I believe, touched something deep within the newly converted disciple.

    It helped to start the greatest Christian of the centuries on his way. Suppose, just suppose, the little boy who gave his loaves and fishes to Jesus had said to himself: "This meal is mine and I will share it with no one," he would not have witnessed one of the greatest miracles of all time.

    Suppose the disciples, instead of serving out the multiplied bread and fishes to the crowd, decided to pile it in one corner and make a charge for it. What do you think would have happened? I doubt whether we would ever have heard of them again.

    They would have sunk into obscurity. And again, suppose the man who owned the colt on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem had said, "This colt is mine and I will let it go to no one," what would have happened?

    For the balance of his days he would have had an inner debate over whether or not he was justified in keeping it for himself. You and I will come across opportunities to be generous. If we fail to respond to these opportunities, who knows what great ministries will never come to birth, what mighty things will not get done? God has opened His doors of generosity to us; let us not fail to open up the doors of our generosity to others.

    Prayer:
    O Father, help me be the channel and not the stopping place of all Your generosity to me. When I see how generosity has opened up such power in the lives of others, I fear that I may fail. Help me, dear Father. In Jesus' Name. Amen

  8. #1588
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    Framework for generosity

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 11:1-10

    "The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight." (v.1)

    How do we go about establishing a framework for generosity? First - decide that nothing you possess is your own but that everything you have belongs to God. This puts God in His place and you in yours. You are now ready to manage His possessions, not as you like but as He likes.

    This is real freedom. It gives you a sense of accountability to another - God. You get your life orders not from a whim, a notion, self-impulse or whatever takes your fancy, but from the One who saved you and redeemed you.

    Second - go over your life and see what belongs to your needs and what merely belongs to your wants. Your needs are important - God has promised to supply them - but your wants? Ah, that is another thing.

    You need as much as will make you fit - spiritually, physically and mentally - for the purposes of God while you are here on the earth. Beyond that, what you have belongs to the needs of others. How do you decide what belongs to your needs?

    No one can decide it for you - though they can make suggestions - for you are accountable to God. Go over your life item by item and ask Him for directions. Your family should figure prominently in your concerns, but you must check everything with the Lord.

    Third - fix it as an axiom in your mind that you will be generous to people, not for the good feelings that generosity brings, but because you are determined to bless them in some way. You must never be generous in order to get a blessing - you must be generous to be a blessing.

    Prayer:
    Father, I am thankful that the basis of my life is fixed in You and from that I am able to build a framework for generosity. From now on help me to give with all the stops out. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

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