Excel

square grunge red no limits stampThis word carries with it the intent to surpass or do extremely well in whatever activity I’m involved with. It is part of the word “excellent” as well. I believe that those who give their very best end up excelling. In the sporting world, there are some sports where a gifted athlete combines his/her gifts with the discipline of preparation and they are crowned champion, whether it’s the Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA championship, etc.…

Paul, in writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, puts a strong challenge out there for them to give to another church that has been struggling. Giving is one of the biggest blessings that I can do for others. Paul makes an incredible appeal to give that really challenged me even this morning. Check this out…

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving advice because it is profitable for you, who began last year not only to do something but also to want to do it. (2 Corinthians 8:7-10 CSB)

He approaches the subject of giving by linking it to grace. If I give from a grace-filled heart, my gift will be generous.

I believe my giving reflects my faith.

I believe my giving reflect His Grace in me.

I believe my giving reflects the genuineness of my love for God. Talk is cheap – obedience is expensive.

I believe my giving profits me with blessing upon blessing.

When I committed to being a giver, I became a receiver of the blessing.

I believe that the Lord wants me to excel in my love for Him. One of the ways I can express my love for Him is the discipline of giving. I give before I invest. I give before I spend. I give before I eat. I give to Him first – period.

I am never more like God than when I give….  16 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. (John 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Pleasure

short noteI want to give a shout out to Chick Fil A (especially to the one in Carrollton, GA) for their excellent service when I go to their restaurant to grab a bite to eat. The people who run the registers and the people who greet you at the drive thru all have a good attitude about serving. Every time I say, “Thank You” upon them delivering service, they always respond “My Pleasure”. I am aware that they are trained to say that, but it sure does sound good. It sounds like they are there to give me a good experience in their restaurant. If one of the workers is called upon to clean up a spill and is thanked, he/she will say, “my pleasure”.  I think we all have the choice to serve others or to serve ourselves.

I’ve learned a lot about serving over the years. Zig Ziglar says that “if you help enough people get what they want, then you will get what you want”.  I believe that the gospel is the answer to what the world needs and often wants. When tragedy strikes or suffering happens, we need hope – the gospel offers hope. When we experience joy, we look to celebrate with others – the Lord celebrates the great moments in our lives as well as walks with us in the darkest times too.

The Apostle Paul was called to preach the gospel. He accepted that call from Jesus and traveled all over teaching and preaching. Paul wanted the church to know that He will do anything to help people know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check this out…

19 Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.

22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.

24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-25 CSB)

I want to be known as someone who serves. I don’t want to be known as a self-centered person who only looks out for myself. I want to look out for the needs and concerns of others. I realize that some will take offense and try to twist my motives or my actions, but the Lord knows my heart. I’m here to serve at His call. It is His call upon my life that calls for service to others. It is His call upon my life that sometimes requires me to stand down and not defend myself. It is His call upon my life that calls me to serve people who are hateful, selfish and full of themselves. I am learning to say, “my pleasure” because He’s called me to serve others with a cheerful spirit.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Forgiveness & Consequences

 

Time to Move On Clock Acceptance Concede to ChangeI believe forgiveness is a most powerful experience – whether you’re receiving forgiveness or giving forgiveness – It’s release; It’s remission; It’s pardon. Forgiveness is a gift to both the giver and receiver of it.  The Lord demonstrated this first throughout The Word. Giving and forgiveness are closely linked.  Giving is part of the root word. I have experienced first-hand the power of forgiveness. It releases anger, resentment, bitterness, hate and a ton of other emotions that we harbor. Forgiveness means freedom to both the giver and receiver of it.

There are consequences to sin even though there is forgiveness. I know of people who have made some disastrous choices and are forgiven, but still must pay huge consequences. I believe there are some godly and forgiven people in prison for crimes that were horrifying, but the consequences may possibly be a life sentence in prison. Check this out…

Lord our God,
    you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
    though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his holy mountain,
    for the Lord our God is holy. (Psalm 99:8-9 NIV)

Both the offender and the offended need forgiveness. I’ve encouraged people to give forgiveness in their heart long before they ever have an opportunity to verbalize. It is so cool to see people who have held grudges and hurt for years’ release that and move on. In forgiveness, there is a new start even with the consequences looming. I’ve seen so many lives destroyed by bitterness and hate and the harm done to them was long gone. Holding on to hurt can lead to bitterness. Bitterness leads to literal death or certainly death of all sorts of relationships. I believe when I make a dumb choice or stupid decision, I should own it; make amends, accept the consequences and move on.

I’m no longer a slave to my dumb decisions and profound mistakes – I may have consequences to face because of them but I now know the amazing forgiveness of God. I’m not afraid of what is to come because I’m a child of the Most High God!

No Longer Slaves

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Measure

 

tape measureI have learned the value of measuring things prior to building them. I have several tape measures in my possession because I seemed to have lost the good ones. The cheap tape measures work pretty decent, but the nice 25’ Stanley tape measure is tough to beat. Over the years in my limited wood working ability and building things, I’ve learned to “measure twice and cut once”!

Solomon was in the process of building the furnishings of the temple. He was determined that there would be all new furnishings for the house of God when it was completed. Check this out…

All the objects that Huram-Abi made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of polished bronze. 17 The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. 18 All these things that Solomon made amounted to so much that the weight of the bronze could not be calculated. (2 Chronicles 4:16b-18 NIV)

Solomon obviously didn’t have a budget – he was simply building extravagantly without thought on how much it cost. He was also extremely wealthy. I’m definitely impressed with what he did in the temple and how profoundly committed he was to following God. As wise as Solomon was, this seemed pretty crazy to me.

My giving to the Lord is measurable. My church provides me a “giving statement”. I can also give to other causes such as the American Cancer Society and charities that are like them. My giving can certainly be extravagant, but also measured. The Lord knows my heart in my giving and having my heart in a good place is actually probably more important than my gift. The Lord doesn’t need my money to do ministry – He does need my heart.

I don’t think you can put a price tag on giving – I do think it’s wise to be methodical, measureable with a little spontaneity thrown in!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Giving Expense

Give 3d Words Background Generosity and ContributionThe Lord loves a giver. I believe that I’m most like God when I give. I also believe that giving does something deep inside my heart. I have learned that giving is expensive, but oh so worth it.

I was taught growing up that I should give. I remember my Dad writing a check from his checkbook each week to give at church. I learned by taking money that my parents gave me to Sunday School and putting it in the offering bucket. As I grew older, I learned the value of earning money by working for others. One of my first jobs was in the hayfield loading hay to take it to the barn. I don’t remember how much I got paid, but I remember my parents teaching me to give a tithe (10%) on the money I earned.

King David had just done something pretty stupid and offensive to God. I’m not sure why this was so wrong, but evidently everyone knew it was wrong. It appears that David wanted to count the number of people in Israel and the number of fighting men. There is a part of me that thinks this was actually logical. The Lord called him out regarding this and David repented. The Lord gave David three options for punishment: 3 years of famine in the lane, 3 months of being swept away by your enemies or 3 days of plague upon the land. David surrendered himself to God because he knew of God’s mercy. The Lord punished Israel for David’s sin, but the Lord did relent. Check this out…

18 Then the angel of the Lord ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19 So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the Lord.

20 While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel; his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.

22 David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.”

23 Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”

24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:18-24 NIV)

A couple of important principles jumped out at me as I read this passage. First David went in obedience to build an altar before God. I don’t think David questioned the command one bit. The other thing that jumped out at me when the owner of the threshing floor offer to give David the property, the wood, the sacrifices – everything for the offering free of charge. David made a very insightful statement that sticks with me. I should give to the Lord something that cost me nothing – that’s not really my gift.

I want to learn more and more about giving. The giving I’m already involved in is really fun. I want to become more like God – He is such a GIVER. Giving is expensive, but for sure worth it. I think it’s way more expensive to be selfish than to be a giver.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Genuine Giving

 

Multi-Ethnic Group Of People's Arms Raised Holding Letters ThatI grew up in a home where giving was practiced regularly. We didn’t have much in material things, but my parents always displayed a healthy attitude of giving to help others. I remember watching my Dad write out his tithe check to the church every pay period. I also learned first hand just how much the Lord loves a giver. We are never more like God than when we give – “He gave His only Son…”

Elisha meets the woman and her husband who are generous toward him. They make quite an impression upon him. Check this out…

8 One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he passed by, he stopped there to eat. 9 She said to her husband, ‘I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. 10 Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.’

11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Call the Shunammite.’ So he called her, and she stood before him. 13 Elisha said to him, ‘Tell her, “You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?”’

She replied, ‘I have a home among my own people.’ (2 Kings 4:8-13 NIV)

They built a small room out so that Elisha could have his privacy and know that he always had a place to stay when he came that way. The part that jumped out to me is that this lady didn’t expect anything in return for her giving. She was thinking of Elisha and his comfort as he traveled so much.

I was reminded this morning that all I have belongs to the Lord. I’m simply a steward of all that He has given to me. I can always take my giving to a higher level. I want to be a giver like God is a giver. I want to think ahead like this Shunammite woman. I want to give without expecting reciprocation. God loves a generous giver. Giving reveals what is really going on inside my heart. Check out what Jesus says about this….

19 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)

I want to invest into eternity by being a generous giver. I want to seek the Lord’s direction in giving. I want to be a giver like Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne