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Giving in Love

Love has first priority in the Bible. It is the most important and most comprehensive fruit of the Spirit. It is the first commandment, and it is the second commandment. All the other teachings of the Bible fit into it. God is the source of all love, and He expresses His love to the world by giving. Giving is preached much more than it is practiced. Perhaps this is because the preaching is prompted by the desire to receive rather than the desire to give. Many churches and radio and television programs teach giving by encouraging people to give to their ministry. The emphasis is, “You are to give so that I can receive.” It is a veneer to hide covetousness. Another reason giving is taught more than practiced is that we are not taught how to give lovingly by example. If godliness were widespread, it would not be necessary to teach giving. People would give themselves and their money, rather than giving their money instead of themselves. They would also give their money to the rig
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Our Weapon: The Blood of Christ

  As Scripture describes it, another great weapon in our arsenal is the blood of Jesus Christ. “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death’” (Rev. 12:9–11). “They” are “our brothers” (v. 10). The “him” they triumphed over is “Satan” (v. 9). Their weapon was the blood of the Lamb, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The blood of Christ works in our salvation, our redemption, and for our continual cleansing: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the

Our Weapon: The Mercy of God

God has not only been gracious to us, but also merciful. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy , made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Eph. 2:4–5a). “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). “ He saved us , not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy ” (Tit. 3:5). “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (Jas. 3:17). Mercy is the work of God. It also comes in quantities, just like grace does. The Bible describes God’s mercy as rich, great, and full. We are to show mercy to the people we are preaching to: doubters, those in the fire, those who are caught up in sin. It must be genuine mercy, not feigned. “ Be merciful to those

When Politeness Is the Wrong Way to Go

  Politeness, political correctness, and relational communication have something positive in common. They are attempts to use words to be friendly, to not cause offense, and to avoid confrontation. Aren’t these good things? Yes, they are. They are also surface attempts at kindness. They are mechanics. Teaching a little boy to say “Thank you” certainly makes things more pleasant, but it is not the same as teaching him thankfulness . I was taught politeness as a boy. Then I was really taught it when I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy . I was trained to be an officer and a gentleman . I found out that politeness worked (standing when ladies came into the room, opening doors for them, etc). I discovered that these positive mechanics were not the outward expressions of the heart. They did not express kindness, love, or patience. In many cases they actually covered up unkindness, unlove, and impatience. Isn’t covering up unkindness better than expressing it? I am tempted to say

Stopping Your Ears and Humming Loudly

One of the freedoms that man has received from the Lord is the ability to refuse to listen to Him. Man has exercised that freedom many times. Here is an account of one of those times: “But they refused to hearken, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts like adamant lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets” (Zechariah 7:11-12). But God has the same kind of freedom that He has given man. Here is His response: “As I called and they would not hear, so they called and I would not hear” (Zechariah 7:13). This is a dreadful statement. He had also said, “I will not listen” 200 years earlier and 100 years earlier in Isaiah 1:15 and Jeremiah 11:11. There is something that God will listen to, though. He will listen to a prayer of repentance. But repentance is more than the words, “I’m sorry.” Repentance is a change of heart, mind, and action. Look a

Our Weapon: The Grace of God

Our first weapon in the spiritual war is the gospel. What moved God to offer the gospel to us? The answer is the grace of God, which we in turn wield as weapons in this warfare. “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:16–17). “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:5–6). “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6). “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20). “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor.

Our Weapon: The Gospel

  In order to understand the weapons of our spiritual warfare, we must begin with the gospel. “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, that He appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (1 Cor. 15:1–8). “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Chri