Generous Lives  

Authored by Lou Geense
Philippians 4:14-16 – Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.

Paul was quite clear that he had learned to be content in whatever his present situation was due to his reliance on the Lord. That did not mean that he desired to be poor and destitute. Still, everyone needs a little help from friends now and then. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that.
The Philippians had helped Paul by supplying him with some money, and perhaps some food and clothing, on more than one occasion. That did not go unnoticed, and Paul did not pretend that he didn’t need the help, or that he would have been just fine without it. Paul admitted that it was kind and helpful of the Philippians to send their gifts to him.
Paul was not above being bold in his comments and openly admits that the Philippian church had done a better job of supporting him than other congregations had done. Paul affirms that this action was helpful and encouraging to him. For Paul, generosity was clearly a part of the whole Jesus package. Living generous lives shows that we “get it” when it comes to the gospel. In response to God’s amazing grace, we give too! And Paul dearly wanted everyone to under­stand this—because getting Jesus right is the most important thing in the whole universe.
Living generous lives blesses others but it also blesses us more than we really know. Next time you have opportunity to be generous, try to do so and see what a blessing it can be.
Lord Jesus you gave yourself completely for our sake. Help us to catch the vision of giving and to lead generous lives of self-giving always. In your name, Amen.

Christianity Began With An Event

Authored by Mary Lucas
Read:  1 Corinthians 15: 3-8, 12-19

Sadly, many people have walked away from Christianity, or the next generation in a family may not believe as prior generations did.  Perhaps this is because of the false assumption regarding the foundation of Christianity. And that is that the Bible is the foundation of our faith.  Therefore, if you can undermine the authority of any book or passage then that must mean the Bible is false and also Christianity is false. But the foundation of our faith is not “It is written!” It is “Something happened!”  Christianity began when a person, Jesus Christ died on a cross and then overcame death, rising again.  We believe in the resurrection not just because the Bible says it is true but because eyewitnesses like James and Thomas and Paul say it’s true. 
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.  After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.  Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him…. But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.”
Christianity did not begin with a book but by an event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And if that didn’t happen then our faith is useless.  Our authority is in a person not a book.  Jesus said to his disciples: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth”.  Matthew 28:18
Those who walk away from the faith need to know that they are not walking away from a book but they are walking away from an event and more importantly they are walking away from a person.  I need to remember this as well…to point people not to the Bible but to Jesus.  I need to remember as I read the Bible to see how it points to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  Some passages (like the prophecies and psalms) clearly predict who Christ is and what he will do. Other passages prepare God’s people to understand the grace God must provide to redeem them. Still other passages show how our actions and status are a result of God’s grace towards us in giving His son to die for us.  His grace towards us precedes, enables, and motivates our efforts toward holiness. In other words, what we are to do is always a result of who we are in Christ.  Also, as you read the Bible ask yourself, “what does this passage reflect about the nature of God who provides redemption?” Or “what does this passage reflect about the nature of humanity that requires redemption?”  Just keep looking to see how it all points to Jesus.
Following Jesus will always make your life better and make you better at life!


Authored by Lou Geense
Read: Mark 14:3-9.
Vs. 3 – While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

When the woman broke the jar of expensive perfume the judgement on her actions began immediately. Surely the money spent on the jar of perfume for Jesus could have helped people in need. Would this not have been better spent on helping the poor? But Jesus was the one whom the woman was called to bless at that time. She followed God’s leading in her that day. Jesus acknowledged it was an appropriate action as well.
Have you or your family ever received a generous gift? Our family has on a number of occasions. The hard part for me was to accept them graciously. My own sense of pride often got in the way of acceptance. In the end however, those gifts came in times of financial need for us, and they were more appreciated than I could ever say. The people giving us those gifts felt led to give and didn’t do it out of guilt or duty. They did it because they loved our family and knew that God had blessed them to be a blessing to others.
We know that the cost of ­discipleship—following Jesus—involves relying on God and following his calling in our lives. The people who blessed our family were doing just that. The woman in today’s story gave extravagantly to Jesus with no thought about her own needs or agenda. She simply did what she was called to do.
Sometimes we are called to do things that may seem different or out of place, however if we truly understand that we are being called to do so, just do it. That may cost us a bit of pride, but the outcome will be a blessing to others and a building block in our faith.
The call to be generous and bless others is to trust Jesus and to live with a generous spirit. It is always rewarding.
Father, allow us to hear your call and to follow wherever you may lead, no matter the cost. Amen.

He Has Risen, Just As He Said

Authored by Martha Dodd
Read:  Matthew 28: 1-20
The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.  Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’  Vs 5-10

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is one of the most highly attested events in history.  The evidence of the empty tomb, the many eyewitness reports from both individuals and groups, some as large as 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:3-7), the transformed lives of Jesus’ followers and the rapid growth of the church – all point to the truth of the resurrection.

It is one thing to know in our heads that the Jesus rose from the dead, but how does this change our lives? 
As one person has noted, people commonly accept as historical fact that human beings walked on the moon just over 50 years ago.    And yet, this knowledge has made little or no impact on how people lead their daily lives.
So, if we believe that Jesus’ resurrection from the grave actually happened, what does this mean for how we live our lives?   In what ways has Jesus’ resurrection shone light, quelled fears or directed hope into your life and circumstances…in years past or in this past year, or today?
The angel told the women at the tomb that first Easter morning that Jesus had risen, “just as he said.” As they waited in the dark, between Friday and Sunday, did they remember Jesus’ words?   What truth has Jesus given you to hold on to in the dark?   The women discovered it was only in the presence of the risen Jesus, that their fears were silenced. And like them, it is only as we first ‘come and see’ and encounter our risen Lord Jesus as we abide in Him, that we then have something to ‘go and tell’ others. 

Lord, thank you that Jesus shared in our humanity so that by His death, He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  And thank you that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, You have given us new birth into a living hope. 
Please enable me to know and experience the power of Christ’s resurrection in my thoughts, words, and actions.  Thank you that You will always be with me to the very end of the age, helping me to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have.  (Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Peter 1:3; Philippians 3:10, Matthew 28:20, 1 Peter 3:15)
1 Corinthians 15: 55-58
‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Rich Man – Poor Man 

Authored by Lou Geense
Read: Luke 16:19-31.
Vs. 19-21 – “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

Of all the indignities that I saw while serving in Relief and Development for our denomination was to see the extremely poor not just being marginalised but to be ignored by the leaders in their own country. I remember seeing beggars pushed off the side of a street and out of sight by police. Moments later a caravan of luxury cars drove by as the country president returned to his office nearby. This parable that Jesus told came to m y mind as I watched the beggars slowly make their way back to the side of the streets.
Jesus had sympathy for the poor and often rebuked rich people who were selfish and did nothing for the poor. In Jesus’ parable, the poor man Lazarus who died was carried by angels to Abraham’s side in heaven, and the rich man was sent to hell, where he was in torment.
The rich man had lived for his own pleasure and had ignored the message of Moses and the Prophets. Lazarus had had no comfort in life, but in death he received the blessings of life with God in heaven.
Many of the hymns of the American black slaves in the southern states were messages of hope and ultimate vindication by Almighty God for the injustices they endured as slaves. One of their spiritual songs speaks of God as the “Rock of my soul” in “the bosom of Abraham”— an expression referring to “Abraham’s side.”
In Jesus’ parable, the rich man’s sin was not that he was rich; it was that he refused to care for a person in need. His stony heart ignored the call to share food with the hungry and to provide shelter and clothing for people in need (Isaiah 58:7).
I pray that I will never be so blind that I do not see the pain and suffering of others. The truth is that the majority of us who live in Canada live in an affluence that we seldom recognize.

Our heavenly Father, instill in me your heart of compassion and lead me to do some good with the earthly treasures you have given me. In the name of the One who has compassion on us, Amen.