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September 5

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“They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2 NLT).

From: September 5, 2018

Paul commended the churches of Macedonia for their amazing generosity. For although they were very poor, they were very joyful and insisted on giving generously to the offering Paul was collecting for Jerusalem.
God often chooses the poor to accomplish great things. For they readily depend on Him and easily give Him all the credit. When people gain even a little wealth, they tend to depend on it, rather than God. Of course, being poor does not automatically make one more spiritual. A poor person can be as grumpy and miserly as a rich one. Yet, riches of any amount, can become idolatrous to the one who depends on them.
Generosity is the mark of one who recognizes God as the source of all they have and depends on Him for all they need. Joy and generosity go together.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiates 11:1 NKJV).

From: September 5, 2017

A saying of Solomon that has had many interpretations. Yet, the principle of sowing and reaping seems to be at the heart of it with an emphasis on generosity and faith. Consider the word “bread.” It may be seen as “seed.” So, it might mean, instead of eating your seed, sow it liberally upon the waters of Spring that when the waters recede, you will find a crop growing there. It may be about sharing with the poor, only to find that we have been rewarded by God later. It may be about taking a risk with our time/talent/treasure, letting it leave our hands (our control), and casting it out to see where God might cause it to prosper. It is certainly about living a life of the open hand. Open to God to receive and open to others to give.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV)

From: September 5, 2016

The example of Christ’s generosity should inspire and empower our own. He took on the poverty of our separation, sin and death, that we might receive the riches of His sonship, righteousness and eternal life. Having received this grace of Christ, we also have received His generous character. We can live the life of the open hand, one hand open to God receiving, the other hand open to others giving. As Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).

“If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NKJV)

From: September 5, 2015

Take time to sharpen your saw. One of Solomon’s habits long before Covey’s seven. My mother’s father, my Papaw, knew this habit. Before the invention of weed-eaters, he used a large hand scythe to clear the creek bank. He always kept a sharpening stone in his pocket and would pause from time to time to keep an edge on his blade. He also had a mesmerizing method to his motion, using his strength to lift the long blade and then allow its weight to drop and fall through the weeds. I never mastered this, hacking away at the brush, often with a dull blade, I would spend my young man’s energy in under an hour, while Papaw could continue all day even in his 70s. Papaw would say, “Son, you’re just beating yourself to death. Let the weight of the blade do the work. And stop to sharpen it once in a while.” He had the wisdom that I lacked. You can actually get more done by taking a break to sharpen your saw. Slow down to speed up. Retreat to advance. Take a sabbath one day out of seven to sharpen your edge.

“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7 NLT)

From: September 5, 2014

Paul commended the Corinthian church for its excellence in many areas. Yet, they were woefully lacking in one important place, the practice of giving. They were not a giving church. He brought this to their attention so that they might “excel” in it. Paul didn’t just challenge them to become occasional givers or sentimental givers, but excellent and gracious givers. Are you practicing the act of giving, so that you excel in this grace?

“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7)

From: September 5, 2012

Paul told the church at Corinth that they excelled in every area of ministry except in giving. He encouraged them to excellence there too. Giving is a habit that needs to be practiced. Like any other ministry, we grow in it as we do it. It is a sorely needed art in this culture of consumerism. It acts as a antidote to greed. Do you excel in the act of giving? Are you a great-giver?

“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

From: September 5, 2011

A goad pokes one along the right path. A nail holds them firmly secure. Do you know and follow the words of the Shepherd? Have you submitted to His prodding? Are you held secure by His Word?

It took Solomon a long, circuitous journey to exhaust his study of life “under the sun.”

From: September 5, 2009

Our reading of Ecclesiates ended today. It took Solomon a long, circuitous journey to exhaust his study of life “under the sun.” I’m glad that Jesus is rescuing/has rescued me from this. I’m focusing/focused on life beyond the sun. I’m a spiritual astronaut temporarily stuck in an earth suit.