Simply generous

RE Verse reading–Genesis 1:1, Psalm 100, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, Philippians 2:5-8, James 1:17-18 (day four)  “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all generously. . . and it will be given him”  (James 1:5) When James (the brother of the Lord) says that God gives generously, he uses the word haplos.  It means “simple” (literally “not going on a trip”)  Single-minded.  Imagine a wealthy person who only has ONE passion, ONE charity.  The expected result is generous and regular support because His interest is undivided.  James says that God is the same.  He has only one agenda in the world–His Son and the people who are His by faith.  He is not distracted.  His eye is on us.  We can expect His generous help.  “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  (Romans 8:32)  It isn’t complicated.  God is simply generous.

Love languages

RE Verse reading–Genesis 1:1, Psalm 100, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, Philippians 2:5-8, James 1:17-18 (day three)  “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17)  Remember Gary Chapman’s book  THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES?  It was a turning point for many.  1) Words of affirmation, 2) Touch, 3) Quality Time, 4) Acts of service, 5) Gifts. . . Chapman proposed that we all have a preferred language for expressing and receiving love.  What is God’s language of love?  Perhaps all, but certainly Acts of service.  “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us”  (Romans 5:8)  He shows us His love by serving us, providing for us.  Picture Jesus on His knees washing the disciples feet!  If deeds are God’s language for expressing love to us, doesn’t it follow that He will receive love from us in similar fashion?  “If you love me, keep my commandments” said Jesus. (John 14:10)  Faith without works is dead.  Love without works is too.

The Father of lights

RE Verse reading–Genesis 1:1, Psalm 100, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, Philippians 2:5-8, James 1:17-8 (day two) “Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”  (James 1:17)  I am excited about this summer study.  It already feels life-changing.  I am praying for you as you read and reflect.  Some of God’s best gifts are sun, moon and stars.  The ancients were particularly sensitive to the darkness, coldness and danger that would be present without them.  When James calls God “the Father of lights”  he is pointing to the giver of these gifts. Nature speaks of God’s generosity, even if it does so imperfectly.  Sun, moon and stars are all subject to seasonal changes.  By rotation of the earth and orbit around the sun, all are sometimes brighter/warmer than other times.  They are imperfect.  He isn’t.   Their valuable but variable contribution makes us grateful for a God who never changes in His generosity towards us.  Behind an imperfect world is a perfect heart.

Our generous God

RE Verse reading–Genesis 1:1; Psalm 100; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 8:8-9; Philippians 2:5-8; James1:17-18  “For God so loved the world, He GAVE His only begotten Son” (John 3:16)  Welcome to the summer study of FBC.  The weeks ahead look spiritually rich.  Rich in insight.  Rich in blessing.  For 13 weeks, you are invited to a daily/weekly consideration of various texts of scripture that speak of God’s generosity (and ours)  For us, generosity is a learned behavior.  It rises out of gratitude.  First we receive.  Then we give.  “To whom much is given, much is required”  (Luke 12:48)  With God, generosity is original, essential, unchanging. “Every good thing given, every perfect gift. . .comes down from the Father.(James 1:17)  Giving is normal for God.  It always has been. May the Lord guide us all to this life-changing discovery.  It may require some page turning.  It will require some reflection.  May He make this the most joyful summer of our lives as we meditate on this truth.  We serve a generous God!

What is good?

RE Verse reading–Micah 6:1-8 (day seven)  “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?”  (vs 8)  Have you had a good day?  Is Barak Obama a good president?  To answer either of these questions, we must answer a deeper one.  What is good?  More than semantics,  this question goes to the heart of every human choice.  In Luke 18, Jesus challenged the Rich Young Ruler to think more deeply on this subject.  “Why do you call me good?  Only God is good”, said the clearest thinker who ever lived.  Micah agrees.  Whether we want to be good people, or good parents, or members of a good church, our behaviors and attitudes must be connected to the expectations of a good God.  His definition/description is the only one available.  “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Psalms 73:28)  Only when we see God clearly can we see what is good.

No good deed. . .

RE Verse reading–Micah 6:1-8 (day six)  “My people, what have I done to you?  How have I burdened you?  Answer me.”  (vs 3)  It is a question that we might ask a spouse or a friend.  In moment of tension, we might say “what have I done to?  Why are you acting this way?”  It rarely elicits a response.  The truth is too uncomfortable.  In this case, the plaintiff is God and the complaint is against His people.  What possible explanation is there for their behavior?  Has He been unkind to them?  Just the opposite.  He has provided for them and been attentive to them.  Even so, His kindness has been answered with ingratitude.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Maybe a pleading God seems weak to you.  He is, however, making a point.  Our disloyal lives have nothing to do with a failure of His.  The truth is deeper (and worse) than we imagine.  We are ungrateful people.


RE Verse reading–Micah 6:1-8  (day five)  “The Lord has a case against his people. . . a charge against Israel”  (vs 2)  It was a common prophetic dream–a day when the people of God would be effectively confronted with their sins and the irrationality of their behavior.  If you have ever been in a dysfunctional relationship, you understand.  You probably dreamed of the day when you would be able to say what you were thinking–to express to the alcoholic or the narcissist or the ungrateful child all the pain you have felt.  You probably fantasized that they would see the  “error of their ways” and change.  Micah verbalized a similar dream from the Lord–a day when the people of Judah would be indicted and hauled into court.  Maybe then they would understand the seriousness.  It is what God wants for all of us–a time when He can confront us regarding our sin.  “Come let us reason together (argue). . .says the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18)

I sent Moses to lead you

RE Verse reading–Micah 6:1-8 (day four)  “I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam”  (vs 4)  As God makes his case against Judah, as He reminds of His faithfulness and contrasts it with their unfaithfulness,  He recalls the leaders He has sent to them.  Ephesians 4 makes a similar point.  “And He GAVE some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints. . .until we all attain. . .to the fullness of Christ”  (vs11-13)  One of the ways that God speaks His love to us is by sending us leaders. Sunday School teachers, pastors and Presidents, mayors and managers.  They are gifts from God!  It is possible, in our tension with authority in general,  to forget that behind even imperfect leaders is a perfect love of God.  Read Romans 13 and Hebrews 13:17-18.  May we be faithful and prayerful and grateful followers.  Leaders are expressions of His love.

From great to good

RE Verse reading–Micah 6:1-8 (day three)  “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”  (vs 8)  With apologies to Jim Collins, it is not greatness that God requires of us.  It is goodness.  They are not the same thing.  Not wealth, fame, status, or power.  Something more humble.  Something more human.  The word humble comes from the Latin word humus.  It means “earth or dirt”.  Much of our anxiety leaves when we realize that we were made from dirt and will return to it eventually.  The Lord does not expect more from us than we are capable (in fellowship with Him) of achieving.  Humility reminds us of our need for God.  To walk humbly with God is His plan for us and leads to acting justly and loving mercy.  Such a life, from God’s perspective, is very good.

What shall I give Him?

RE Verse reading–Micah 6:1-8 (day two)  “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings?”  (vs 6)  Worship for the ancients was inseparable from gift giving.  No person would think to appear before a King (much less God) without a gift.  Think of the wise men who, “fell to the ground and worshiped Him. . .and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”  (Matthew 2:11)  “With what shall I come before the Lord?”  asked the people of Judah in Micah’s day?  Good question.  The problem was their answer.  They imagined that God was only (or mainly) concerned with “church things”.  If there was a problem with God what would satisfy Him would be more “church things”.  It fell to Micah to set this straight.  What God wants from us is not something we can give Him at church.  It is a certain kind of life.