Friday, January 11, 2013

God is in Control

“In everything I did, I (Paul) showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ( Acts 20:35)

There is some question as to whether or not Jesus really said these words captured by Paul in the book of Acts. A theologian’s response was:

“You are correct in noting that this saying of Jesus quoted by Paul is not found anywhere in the four Gospels.  This is a rare instance of a saying of Jesus not found in the canonical Gospels. Does the fact that it isn’t stated in the Gospels mean that it isn't reliably from the lips of Jesus? I don't think so. The Apostle John said at the end of his Gospel (John 21:25): "Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."

 Obviously, this is exaggeration for the sake of making a point, but it means that Jesus did many more things than were written, and if he did many more things, it is reasonable to conclude that he said more things.

When we apply this verse in our lives I think we can easily agree with Jesus and Paul saying: “It is (definitely) more blessed to give than to receive.” I believe as we grow older it makes more sense because we hopefully mature as Christ-followers becoming like Him in our priorities, principles, purpose, and practice.  I think it’s the reason when we are younger that we tend to give in and listen to the sinful nature and its selfish desires rather than focus on God and others (I am third). 

I recently had a confirming experience with our NSBC high school and college students that brought it full circle and there is no better time to remember than here at Christmas.  We took our students down to Beautiful Feet Outreach Ministries in Fort Worth for a Christmas outreach project. I shouldn’t ever be surprised when I go down there just how special a time we are going to have “giving” instead of “receiving”.  It is always such a pleasant time and fresh reminder as God moves in and through you to remind you of His love and then allow you to show it to others.

We joined several churches from the DFW Metroplex in a caroling hayride through some “rough” streets of Fort Worth.  Going down there can naturally bring up fear, uncertainty, and challenge due to cultural stereotypes but once there you feel a peace and purpose that only comes from knowing you are in the middle of God’s plan and purpose.  (By the way, there’s no better place to be!)

Expecting a few other churches and a couple of hundred people to go out on the streets we were surprised to find over a thousand people from several churches who had come to share God’s love through: door to door ministry with caroling, sharing of presents with kids and adults in the homes, praying over the families and sharing the gospel through a reminder of the Christmas story and Jesus being the “reason for the season”. 

The people we met were so grateful, humble, and a blessing to us as they received the Christmas love, gifts, and ministry with an open heart and mind.  I can personally share I was blown away with their receptivity and desire to minister back to us with kindness, openness, and a desire to share their blessing with others.  Some shared personal prayer requests with us but most felt compelled to pray for others, especially those touched by hurt and tragedy such as Hurricane Sandy and the families hurting in Newtown, CT.

God gave us a special experience that evening and reminded me that He is in control, brings “peace and goodwill toward mankind”, and is the author and ultimate in understanding what it truly means “to give is better than to receive”.  The people we ministered to didn’t have a lot materially but they sure gave a lot away that night that had nothing to do with self or things of this world.  They gave a smile, a hug, and a handshake.  They gave a “God bless you”, “Merry Christmas”, and a “Thank You”.  But more importantly was that we were able to give and receive Jesus that night!

None of our group had this specific Christmas experience previously but upon completion felt that we never wanted to go another year without being a part of this ministry whether it was in Fort Worth, Weatherford, or wherever God may take us.  May we take this generous, Christ-filled holiday experience and share it with others wherever the Lord takes us in 2013.  We have a message and it is worth giving and receiving it!  Let’s give others the opportunity to do the same.

Scripture to Claim:
“The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

Submitted By Jim Garner

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