Posts

How God Taught Me to Give

Written By Ching, Singapore

I am surrounded by giving people. Their tireless generosity is inspiring to me, and I want to emulate their giving spirit.

My mum and her siblings are some of the people who have showed me what it looks like to give often and consistently―they exchange gifts almost on a weekly basis! They remind me of Romans 12:10, which teaches us to love our spiritual siblings affectionately and to “outdo one another in showing honor”.

I also have friends who painstakingly craft handiworks with love, spending much time and effort in doing so. I know others who buy gifts consistently and make it a discipline to give often. There are also people working in the social sector who give so much that it hurts, even though they are sometimes repaid with scorn and complaints instead of gratitude.

I have also met churches, led to be generous by their leaders, that often give and bless their fellow church members and the immediate community that they love, serve, and reach out to. The beauty of generosity on a broader scale is magnificent. I have peers in Thailand that have shown me what hospitality looks like by receiving me with sacrificial love. I have mentors who have modeled for me long-term generosity over decades, and I have seen their long-suffering.

Yet despite having so many examples of generosity in my life, I have still found it difficult to live out this generous lifestyle. I learn all I want, but still end up never doing anything, nor wanting to. I wasn’t much of a giver; I was more of a taker.

In 2014, I decided to experiment with giving often.

Throughout that year, I found myself wavering between extremes. There were days when I did not want to give at all, and I became self-indulgent and “gave” to myself. Other times I gave out of selfish motives. What began as an experiment to try being more generous, revealed how selfish I was. I began to realize that generosity was not a natural human instinct. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we are simply not able to give freely. Through my selfishness, I saw how truly our hearts need Christ.

As I began to comprehend the amazing grace Christ gave us―even dying on the cross for us―I began to understand that we are called to be a part of His mission and, as His representatives here on earth, to exhibit His generosity. Generosity comes only from the Holy Spirit’s work within us, Christ’s life in us, and the love of God our Father overflowing in our lives. In short, generosity is a work of God in our lives.

In 2014, I slowly learned to be more generous. God helped me learn lessons from people around me. He also gave me a workplace with a very generous culture.

I began giving random presents to colleagues and friends. Then I started intentionally treating friends on their birthdays. Then I was modeling generosity, week in and week out, for those I shepherd. Soon I realized that my generosity needed a more intentional effort, and that planning was required.

I began budgeting. The principle of “Give, Save, Spend” helped me become more intentional in generosity. From small, spontaneous trinket-gifts, I moved on to slowly saving up and giving consistently so that others can be blessed over a longer period of time. A group of friends and I combined our resources so that we could help fund the school fees of one of our friends who was studying to go into full-time ministry.

Generosity has become a part of my lifestyle. I was giving consistently and intentionally. But I also realized that sometimes we give without love.

In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul says “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Even if we give away everything, but do it not out of Christ’s love, we gain nothing.

Nothing.

Serving in the helping profession, there have been moments where I failed to show empathy and genuine concern for the people I had been tasked to care for. Instead of giving out of love, I found myself giving because I wanted to be validated, which ultimately led to disappointment and guilt.

Our generosity needs to be an overflowing of Christ’s love for us, and also an intentional message about our Father’s love.

You might be thinking, “But I am no Mother Teresa,” “I am not rich,” or “I am not some noble helper”. But the people who have inspired me by their life of generosity were from all walks of life, from the very poor to the very rich. Being generous is a consistent intentional lifestyle.

A beggar I’ve met in a subway station once shared with me how every day of the week, a different Christian will befriend him or cook him dinner or speak to him. He also told me how some of them have even become his friends, and visit him as often as they can.

Christian generosity must be different from what everyone else does. We have the message of a very rich King who emptied himself and became poor, died, and rose again, so that we can be adopted into His family.

Get to know your daddy God intimately. Knowing our identity as a child of God, we can then reflect our Father’s generosity to all.

What Love Really Means

Title: What Love Really Means
Materials: Hand Drawn Type
Description: I read somewhere that the word “love” has lost its meaning in today’s culture. It’s true. We use this word so casually these days that we make light of its true meaning. To understand again what love really is, I went back to God’s Word to see how it’s been used and described.

There are many verses that talk about love in the Bible and each of them sheds light on a different aspect of it. As such, I decided to make a lettering piece which combines these verses about love to form the word “love”. This is what love really means.

 

Here are the verses used:

 1 Corinthians 13:4-5Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

1 John 4:19We love because he first loved us.

Matthew 22:37-39Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Ephesians 4:2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

1 John 3:1aSee what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 4:7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Psalm 18:1I love you, Lord, my strength.

Matthew 5:44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Proverbs 10:12Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Romans 13:10Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 8:38-39For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16-17 : For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 Corinthians 16:14Do everything in love.

01 love by nicong

02 love by nicong

03 love by nicong

04 love by nicong

05 love by nicong

06 love by nicong

07 love by nicong

08 love by nicong

09 love by nicong

ODJ: God’s Love Revealed

When I speak at schools, one question I’m frequently asked is, “If God loves us, why do so many people suffer in the world?” In responding to my listeners, I challenge the idea that God best expresses His love to us by giving us things and simply making our lives easy. This inaccurate way of viewing how He operates exists and persists both inside and outside of the church.

So it was with Joseph’s brothers when they saw the favor shown to him by Jacob their father (Genesis 37:3-4). Unwisely, Jacob blatantly doted on his second-youngest son, and his other sons couldn’t help seeing he didn’t love them as much. Since they felt unloved, this brought out a hateful response from them towards the object of their father’s affection (v.8).

As this bitterness took root, the men grew so discontented that they treated Joseph ruthlessly—throwing him into a large hole in the ground (vv.20,23-24). Then they callously sold him to some Midianite traders (v.28). This seems shocking—almost impossible to believe. But consider the toxic thoughts and actions that can flow from our own hearts—especially when we begin to believe that others must be loved more by God as we view their lives of ease and blessing. An incorrect view of God’s love can make any one of us bitter towards Him and the perceived objects of His affection.

The key is in understanding that God has revealed the depth of His love for us not through material things, health or favor, but in Jesus’ sacrifice: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). In Jesus’ suffering, we find purpose for our own pain and we experience the fullness of God’s love revealed.

—Russell Fralick

365-day plan: Luke 12:49-59

August 7, 2016 

READ: Genesis 37:1-25  


God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). 

When I speak at schools, one question I’m frequently asked is, “If God loves us, why do so many people suffer in the world?” In responding to my listeners, I challenge the idea that God best expresses His love to us by giving us things and simply making our lives easy. This inaccurate way of viewing how He operates exists and persists both inside and outside of the church.

So it was with Joseph’s brothers when they saw the favour shown to him by Jacob their father (Genesis 37:3-4). Unwisely, Jacob blatantly doted on his second-youngest son, and his other sons couldn’t help seeing he didn’t love them as much. Since they felt unloved, this brought out a hateful response from them towards the object of their father’s affection (v.8).

As this bitterness took root, the men grew so discontented that they treated Joseph ruthlessly—throwing him into a large hole in the ground (vv.20,23-24). Then they callously sold him to some Midianite traders (v.28). This seems shocking—almost impossible to believe. But consider the toxic thoughts and actions that can flow from our own hearts—especially when we begin to believe that others must be loved more by God as we view their lives of ease and blessing. An incorrect view of God’s love can make any one of us bitter towards Him and the perceived objects of His affection.

The key is in understanding that God has revealed the depth of His love for us not through material things, health or favour, but in Jesus’ sacrifice: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). In Jesus’ suffering, we find purpose for our own pain and we experience the fullness of God’s love revealed.

—Russell Fralick

365-day plan: Luke 12:49-59

MORE
Read 1 John 4:7-11 and consider again God’s ultimate sacrifice of love for us. 
NEXT
How has your faith been swayed by the pain or hardship you’ve faced? How has God’s love for you changed your view of suffering? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: Fulfilled

In the movie Frozen, a young princess named Elsa has the truly chilling ability to freeze anything she chooses. But then she accidentally harms her beloved sister Anna with her gift. Not being able to control her freezing ways, Elsa eventually hides in her own lonely ice castle. In the end, however, the princess finds that the personal touch of love allows her to see her gift reach its full potential—under control and as a blessing to others.

As Jesus delivered His famous Sermon on the Mount, He proclaimed that “the law of Moses” had been fulfilled in Him (Matthew 5:17). Of the law and the prophets’ words, He said, “I came to accomplish their purpose.” Jesus upheld the Old Testament completely by interpreting it in light of Himself, by explaining God’s original intention in giving the law (see vv.21-48) and by fulfilling the righteousness that the Father requires (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But there’s something more, as one writer wrote, “Jesus was the embodiment of Israel’s God, the God whose Spirit had inspired the Scriptures in the first place.” He displayed the personal touch of God’s love as He healed the blind and lame, confronted and comforted sinners and fed those who were hungry.

Jesus—God incarnate—lived out the essence of the law. And His unmatched sacrifice on the cross has allowed us to know God personally. As we believe in Jesus and follow His ways, He says, “My father will love [you], and we will come and make our home with each of [you]” (John 14:23).

We can now live out the law that Jesus fulfilled as we bask in the personal touch of God’s love and yield to the leading of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 8:3-4).

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: John 7:1-31

July 27, 2016 

READ: Matthew 5:17-19  


I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose (v.17). 

In the movie Frozen, a young princess named Elsa has the truly chilling ability to freeze anything she chooses. But then she accidentally harms her beloved sister Anna with her gift. Not being able to control her freezing ways, Elsa eventually hides in her own lonely ice castle. In the end, however, the princess finds that the personal touch of love allows her to see her gift reach its full potential—under control and as a blessing to others.

As Jesus delivered His famous Sermon on the Mount, He proclaimed that “the law of Moses” had been fulfilled in Him (Matthew 5:17). Of the law and the prophets’ words, He said, “I came to accomplish their purpose.” Jesus upheld the Old Testament completely by interpreting it in light of Himself, by explaining God’s original intention in giving the law (see vv.21-48) and by fulfilling the righteousness that the Father requires (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But there’s something more, as one writer wrote, “Jesus was the embodiment of Israel’s God, the God whose Spirit had inspired the Scriptures in the first place.” He displayed the personal touch of God’s love as He healed the blind and lame, confronted and comforted sinners and fed those who were hungry.

Jesus—God incarnate—lived out the essence of the law. And His unmatched sacrifice on the cross has allowed us to know God personally. As we believe in Jesus and follow His ways, He says, “My father will love [you], and we will come and make our home with each of [you]” (John 14:23).

We can now live out the law that Jesus fulfilled as we bask in the personal touch of God’s love and yield to the leading of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 8:3-4).

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: John 7:1-31

MORE
Read Romans 10:4 and consider the result of Jesus accomplishing “the purpose for which the law was given”. 
NEXT
Why is it important to view Old Testament laws through the lens of Jesus’ fulfilment of them? How has the personal touch of God’s love and the work of His Holy Spirit allowed you to experience a fulfilled life in Jesus? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)