Generosity (8/21/13)

Another perspective on generosity.

THE RIVER WALK

Read: Job 1:1-3:26, 1 Corinthians 14:1-17, Psalm 37:12-29, Proverbs 21:25-26

Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give! (Proverbs 21:26)

White Castle

Relate: I did an internship in the Bronx a good 15 years ago or so. There was a White Castle nearby and it was my first experience with that sliver of grease they claim to be a burger. Love at first bite. I made a point of going by at a certain time each day to grab three for the ridiculously cheap price of a buck fifty or whatever they were going for.

There was this homeless guy who had set up shop about a block away and after a couple days of going by without doing anything I started giving him that third burger. I did this for a couple days before deciding to go a little further. The next day I bought three for…

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Be Great Followers

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Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8 NKJV)

One of my favorite coaches is Bill Parcels. He is a great leader who has turned around several NFL teams. He has enjoyed the personal success of winning two Super Bowls and was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But more impressive is the success of his followers. Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, and Sean Payton all served under Parcels and were all given opportunities to be head coaches. All three of these coaches have gone on to win Super Bowls: Belichick (3), Coughlin (2), and Payton (1). Good followers like these coaches embrace the instruction and molding provided by their leaders.

In Ephesians 6 Paul stresses the importance of servants following well. He reveals how following well, even when the leader isn’t around, is representative of our service to Christ. In our world of managers and employees or leaders and staff members, the ability to follow well is an indicator of leadership potential. Great leaders are first great followers.

People who follow well exhibit respect for authority and buy-in to the leader’s vision. Leaders know they can trust these followers and may exercise that trust by delegating greater responsibilities to them. This benefits the leader because it increases their overall reach and influence. It benefits the follower by giving them tangible experiences. As the leader experiences more success, those who follow well will be given their own opportunities to lead.

Paul says “knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:8 NKJV) If we serve well, we will in turn be served well. If we support our leaders and make our teams successful, the same will happen for us when it’s our time to lead. If we follow our leaders well, we will find our efforts will make both the leader and ourselves successful.

How can following your leader contribute to your personal success?

Functioning with Fear

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praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20 NKJV)

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul acknowledges his need to continue to function as an ambassador for Christ. The problem is, he’s in chains because of his boldness and is surrounded by opposition. He needed a little help to overcome the impulse to remain silent. So he asks the church to pray for him to receive inspiration and boldness so he can speak about Christ as he ought to speak.

When we face challenges our natural reactions are either fight or flight. We either attack the source of our fears to save ourselves or we run from our fears to avoid them all together. I’d like to submit a third option; continue to function with fear. Don’t go on the attack. Don’t run and hide. Continue to do what needs to be done even though you’re afraid.

Here is an example from history. Centuries ago people believed the world was flat. Looking out over the horizon, sailors believed if they went too far out to sea they would fall off the edge of the world. Then finally, explorers ventured into the uncharted waters and proved the world was round. I’m sure there were sailors aboard those ships who were afraid. They were able to endure and overcome their fears and carry out their functions even while afraid. They were afraid but still gathered their supplies. They were afraid but they still boarded the ship. They were afraid of falling off the world but still raised their sails.

Paul’s life was in danger for sharing his faith but he still asks the church to pray for him to carry out his mission. Today we can learn from his example and seek the help of the Lord and other believers so we can function in the face of fear. Prayer, support, and inspiration from the Lord can strengthen our hearts in the face of oppositions and challenges. We may fear rejection but still ask. We may fear failure but still try. We fear losses but still take risks. As we move forward with God in the face of our fears, we will realize he won’t let us fall.

Pick A Street

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Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. (II Chronicles 34:1-3 NKJV)

While on vacation in another city, I ventured out to pick up breakfast for the family. As I listened to the directions from the GPS I looked over and noticed I’d passed the restaurant even though the GPS voice was still instructing me to keep my current course. Staying the course wouldn’t get me there. I needed to change course. All I needed to do was turn off the GPS, and pick a street where I could turn around.

Judah was headed toward destruction with poor leadership from previous kings. King Josiah knew his country wouldn’t rebound if they stayed on the path of idolatry. They needed to change course and serve The Lord. So Josiah chose the path his people needed to journey toward their recovery. Beginning with himself, he did what was right in the sight of The Lord and walked in the ways of David, a man after God’s heart.

Then Josiah did something to make change stick: he turned off the GPS (poor leadership from previous kings) and stayed focussed on the change. He didn’t get off the path to change. He didn’t turn to the right hand or the left. .

Many of us see the need for change in our personal, professional, and public lives. If we think we’re going to do what we’ve always done, better than before and see significant change, we’re insane. Doing what we’ve always done led us to the need for change but it will never lead to change itself. We need to pick a new street and turn off the flawed thinking and guidelines that got us here.

What new path do you need to choose? What ways of thinking do you need to turn off?

Forgiven Much

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Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” (Luke 7:47 NKJV)

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life that required my wife and children to forgive me. Here’s a truth I’ve learned as they’ve forgiven me time and time again: love is the key to being forgiven. Jesus reveals two truths about love and forgiveness I’d like to share today.

The more we are forgiven, the more we will love.

One of the marks of a mature believer is their awareness of their own sins. As we spend more time applying scripture to our lives, the Holy Spirit make us keenly aware of the areas of our lives that fail to line up with God’s will.

When we truly comprehend the magnitude and consequences of our wrong doings, forgiveness becomes more valuable to us. It’s meaning is amplified in our hearts. When we receive forgiveness from God, we express our love for him with humility and thankfulness. We love him because he first loved us, he sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, and he has forgiven us.

The more we love, the more we will forgive.

When our daughter, Faith, was very young she was a natural at love and forgiveness. If Melissa and I argued or disagreed, Faith would interrupt us by saying “mama I love you” and “daddy I love you”. We would respond by saying “we love you too”. We couldn’t stay angry with each other after expressing sincere love for our daughter. It was like Faith was reminding us that we loved each other. That feeling of love helped us forgive each other.

Forgiveness is an act of love. God loved the world through Jesus. Its a love strong enough to forgive any sin. Each time we forgive others we’re saying we love them more than the hurt we received from their wrong doing. If you’re having difficulty forgiving others, it won’t be resolved by waiting on them to do something to appease your feelings. Your ability to forgive is directly dependent on your love toward them. Begin by loving them with the love of God.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8 NKJV)

To forgive much we must love much. Who’s mistakes do you need to cover with love?

The Beginning of Change

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Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. (II Chronicles 34:1-3 NKJV)

Josiah would eventually lead the greatest turnaround in the history of Judah. The country would change its spiritual direction away from idolatry and toward The Lord. Even though Josiah had positional authority to make any changes he desired, the true spark of change was ignited within himself first.

Leading change always starts within leaders who are changing.

Those who lead successful change in their families, communities, and organizations, understand they must develop themselves to make change stick. People can believe in change when they see leaders who are constantly striving to change for the better. Continual personal development ensures we will be leaders worth following.

At the age of sixteen Josiah began to develop himself by seeking God. By age twenty he began making changes to turn the kingdom around. What areas do you need to develop personally to help bring change to the organization or team you lead?