The Line That Separates Success From Failure

Excellence is the difference between the “good” and the “best”

The line between success and failure is really more like a road. It is well defined and clearly visible (and believe me, it’s not luck).

There are real reasons why some achieve and others fail. There’s a principle that has always been at work that separates those who excel in their calling, with their family, and social environment and those who come up short. And this principle that separates the two is both simple and not so simple. It has always been and will always be.

It’s the principle of excellence.

What does excellence look like? Let me give you an example. One person takes a job and does what they are told and nothing more. When the boss asks for something else, they balk. In fact, they are a little put off that they are being asked to give more than expected.

But there’s another person who always gets to work before the time required. These employees do more than is expected of them, and they do it better. They aren’t afraid the boss will have some new idea to implement. In fact, they keep an eye out for how to improve the business and come up with ideas themselves! They break the comfortable mold of mediocrity and choose excellence. And since time began, it has been those who have chosen excellence who succeed where others failed. Choosing excellence is not just a smart idea, it’s a biblical mandate.

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29

“Don’t settle for average” Jesus told us “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:41. Strive for excellence by putting these things into practice.

  1. Always give more than is expected. Even if it seems like a small thing, do not be afraid of doing your best. When you do little things well, you’re practicing excellence for when the big things come, and I guarantee your excellence in the small things will be remembered.
  2. Work at being consistent. Keep in mind that people don’t remember how fast you did a job, but rather how well you did the job. Whether you like it or not, your name is tied to the quality of your work. Keep a good name by doing good work.

    Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10

  3. Serve the people in your life with excellence. People want to be around those who care for them. When you do a lousy job or help them begrudgingly, guess what? They don’t feel that you care. Instead, do the best job possible. Did they ask you to help bring in the groceries from the car? Help put them away too. That kind of excellence will help bind your relationships for the long haul. And remember,

    Don’t be selfish, and don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Get Remarkable Change in Practical Steps

There was a time when I did not want to go home. If I walked through that door, I just knew there would be another confrontation, and all I wanted was to avoid it. How did it get this bad? What happened?  She was regularly mad and frustrated with me, and things weren’t getting better, they were getting worse. My marriage was in trouble, and I didn’t know what to do.  “It shouldn’t be this way!” I thought. “I’m a pastor!”

Looking for resources to help us, I found a small group class in a city an hour away from us.  The class was a bible-based study of what God says about marriage.  The class made crystal clear what the bible said about the role of the husband and wife, the vision of a covenant marriage, and how to love each other. Every Monday we would drive for an hour, attend the class for an hour and a half, and then fight all the way home.

But the more we went and heard what the Bible said, and the more we let the godly people rub off on us, the more we changed. The change so radical, it saved our marriage.

When you’re looking for change, remember these practical truths.

  1. Listen to what the scriptures says because it does something in your heart. In that class, it was as though the scriptures gave us power. A power to change.  It did something for us we could not do on our own.

    For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. [Heb 4:12 NLT]

     

  2. You need the influence of godly people. Listening to stories from others about how God worked in their lives and marriages truly encouraged us. The truths from the scriptures were challenging, but seeing it in the lives of others, and receiving their prayers for us, gave us the courage to obey.

And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other. [Heb 10:24-25 NET]

I saw how these two things, the Word of God and His people, had always been His chief resources for creating change. Both of these things were stronger than my will power, and helped us make wise decisions. 

You see, God provided Christian community so as to help you follow His Word. The scriptures inform us of what godliness looks like, and then God lovingly brings us into the community of other Christians so that we can walk in that godliness

So I dare you. If you are looking for change, read the scriptures and seek out other Christians. The rest will be history.

Be the Change You Want to See

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I knew a man who was frustrated with his family life. He wanted a change. He wanted a better relationship his kids, but whatever he tried, he just couldn’t connect with them. All the children loved their mom, but dad was just kind of… someone they put up with. It reminded me of a tragic bumper sticker I once saw, “If mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy. If dad’s not happy, who cares!”

Unsure of what to do, he decided to pray and ask God for help. After a few days, a thought occurred to him, maybe I should serve them. It sounded like a good idea, but where would he start? So, again he prayed. Lord, help me.  How do I serve them? Show me.

And after that, he began to see opportunities popping out of nowhere. One time, his daughter mentioned that she and her husband wanted to go out, but couldn’t find a babysitter. Instead of just sympathizing with them, he volunteered. Another time, his son lost means of transportation, so he loaned him his car. As the weeks and months followed, he helped in all sorts of ways. He took family members to the doctor, hosted birthday parties for his grand kids, gave his children a place to stay as they changed careers, and just served his family anyway he could.

He hadn’t seen these opportunities before, but now they began to appear to him all the time, clear as day. And guess what? His relationships radically changed! He had reinvented himself, and he loved it. Now, his kids wanted to talk to him. They wanted their dad to be around, to be part of their lives, to share experiences with them and open up to him. This man discovered a cardinal principle about life: You can change your life when you change the way you treat people.  

The “Jesus” Formula

Jesus gave us a formula for building good relationships. He built his connections to people by serving them and meeting their needs. He healed them, taught them, clothed them, and freed them.

Just as you and I have agendas for what we are doing today or this week, Jesus set an agenda to go out and help people.

Acts 10:38 (NASB) “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

Your future changes when you start serving others, because your relationships shape your future.

Take it from our friend who served his family. He was happy because his serving put smiles on their faces, his relationships were growing because he was actively investing time and effort into his family, and best of all his serving was translated as love, and love is what binds us together with others (and binds them to us as well).

As the saying goes, be the change you want to see. If you’re disconnected with family and your relationships seem dry and lifeless, try being a proactive servant. It may surprise you to find how much people open up when they see how much you care.

What Prayer Is, And What It Is Not

Unrecognizable father with his son playing with cars

Years ago I was going through a change. I happened to pick up a book on prayer by the author E.M. Bounds.  You know how sometimes the right book, podcast, or message just seems to find you when you need it the most? This book was exactly that. There were many lessons about praying that seriously challenged my faith, enough that it changed the way I acted concerning prayer. In one article in the book titled “Answered Prayer,” Bounds brought to life this truth: If you do not have specific answers to the prayers you have prayed, you have no proof that there is a God who answers them.

Wow! This concept really challenged my idea of prayer. I had been a Christian for a some time, but my attitude of prayer had been something closer to this: “Good Christians pray and bad Christians don’t pray. It was a religious practice to me, like having a healthy diet. Prayer was something that helped you along life’s way (sort of like Prozac) or like a pressure valve: if you weren’t practicing it, your life would eventually just blow up. 

But as I read E.M. Bounds, he forced me to look at the things Jesus said about prayer and decide whether I believed Him or not. Here’s one of them:

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

If I was going to be honest with scripture, I had to admit that Jesus expected us to pray for things and receive exactly what we petitioned for. This challenged my worldview. I hadn’t been taking Jesus’ words that seriously.

Some might say, “But don’t you have to pray according to the will of God?” Yes, you must be asking for things that are part of God’s will. But the truth is, most of the time I hear that argument, it is coming from a place of doubt or an explanation of why something hasn’t happened. What I’ve discovered is that there is more that is in the will of God than outside of it! Somehow, I had this idea that God was really hesitant about this “answering prayer” business. And heaven forbid you ask Him for something that was not His will! To me that was just the sort of thing that would irritate Him.

But Jesus is saying something completely different. He is much more willing to answer your prayers than what you think. Instead of worrying about whether something is really the will of God or not, Jesus tells us, “just ask.”

The picture is that of a Father and son. God is the Father, and we are His kids. How simple an idea! Don’t think of prayer as asking the CEO of a huge corporation (who has spent months outlining their strategy and purpose) for something minute and personal. Instead, see it like Jesus described it: like a son asking his dad for something he needs. It’s that simple, and we are commanded to see it that way.

If you want to learn more about prayer, I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer.

 

How to Restart Your Life

Businessman Stop Domino Effect. Risk Management and Insurance Concept

An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it – Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

I became a Christian after years of living a very immoral and drug-induced lifestyle. When I told my family what had happened, they were glad, but skeptical. I had done enough crazy things in the past that they weren’t about to just “take my word for it”. Without them saying it, I could tell they thought, There goes Bob on another crazy tangent.

Thankfully, my wife and I got into a good church that taught the scriptures. We found friends who also had made the decision to follow Christ. I told my sister about my new life, but she raised her brow and decided to watch and see what I would do. After all, lasting change does not happen overnight. But the truth was, my wife and I had really become different people.

A couple of years later, my sister started going to a church like the one we were attending. She told me one day, “When you first said you became a Christian, I didn’t believe it. I did not think you would ever change. But you did. After waiting two years, I finally saw that your change was real.” What my sister didn’t know was how many times I had come short in this “being a Christian” stuff. But from the deepest part of me, it was true: I was different.

What Isaac Newton found to be true in physics is also true in people: “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it.” People can’t change unless something of greater force acts on them.  Something bigger than ourselves must act upon us to make change really happen. I decided to follow Christ and get involved in a church, and from there I learned the scriptures and partook in God’s community. Because of those two things, God’s power began to set into motion real permanent change in my life.

This change that happened to my wife and I has been happening to people for almost 2,000 years. But if that “something greater” is necessary for change, what is our part? First, let me share with you the importance of scripture. 

1. See the Bible as a carving knife, not as your “religious duty”. 

The Bible has a force to change someone all on its own. Take in the Bible as if taking in an agent of change:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Little did I know this book could change me like it did! It has the power to transform the heart: all of our will and desires.

2. Read it as instruction. The Bible taught me how to be a good husband, a good father, how not to be foolish with money, who to trust, and who NOT to trust.

Proverbs 2:6 [NASB] For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Learning this was a big deal. I never had to guess what wisdom looked like. The Bible was my guide to making good choices and living right. It aligned my thinking with the truth which in turn pointed my feet in the right direction. The more I saw how the Bible was changing me, the more I enjoyed it.

Psalms 119:165 [NASB] Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.

Giving this sort of attention to the scripture was truly working a change in my heart, and the change was influencing my sister. But it wasn’t only the scripture that changed me… 

The Proven Destiny of a Loyal Person

three smiling fingers that are very happy to be friends

There was a mother in the Bible whose life circumstances made her a bitter, resentful woman. We don’t know all the details, but we do know this: her husband died, leaving her a widow in a foreign country. She was left under the care of her two sons and their wives. But not long after her husband’s passing, both sons died too. This mother, Naomi, was stuck in a foreign land with a different language, strange customs, different ideas about life and it should be lived, and many more things she did not understand. With no husband to stand by her and no children to comfort her, she lifted her head to heaven and shook her fist, “How could you?!” she yelled, “This is not fair! How could this happen? Where are you, God!?”

Like the fork in the road, this incredibly difficult life offered two paths. One of bitterness, another of loyalty to God. Both went in two different directions, never to intersect. Naomi took the path of bitterness. Her grief was unbearable, and what once might have been a joyful sharp lady became a resentful old foreigner everyone tried to avoid. Her cynicism reeked from her words and life. You could smell it from a mile away.

You can imagine that her two daughters-in-law were also grieving. After all, they had lost their husbands too. Nevertheless, they felt compassion for Naomi. They knew who Naomi was like before all this tragedy. They wanted to comfort her: “We are here for you,” they would say, “we will take care of you.” Although both daughters expressed their allegiance to Naomi, only one was loyal.  

After a while, Naomi made plans to leave that foreign country. One daughter whimpered and cried, “Please stay!”, but when Naomi expressed her resolve, that daughter walked away. The other daughter, Ruth, though not as expressive as the first, clung to her bitter mother-in-law. “Go back with your sister-in-law,” Naomi said, “maybe you will find another man that will love you and care for you.” But Ruth committed herself to her mother. She made a promise to Naomi, a promise so extraordinary, it would forever change Ruth’s destiny. “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back,” she said, “wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth traveled with her embittered mother back to Israel. By God’s incredible design, she met and married a great wealthy landowner who was a leader of the community. Together, they built a great family and became the ancestors of King David and Jesus Christ.

Why is the story of Ruth and Naomi so important for us today? Ruth’s teaches us about commitment.

  1. Commitment is godly thing. God will ask you and I to be committed to very imperfect people,  even bitter ones. When it seems impossible to tolerate them, that is your chance to show God’s love. We are committed to others, because God is committed to us, even with all of our faults.
  2. Promise keepers are rewarded. Proverbs 28:20 says, “The man who wants to do right will get a rich reward. But the man who wants to get rich quick will quickly fail.” Sticking to your commitments and to people you’ve committed to is work, but it’s work that is rewarded. Your loyalty will reap support and reward.
  3. Above all, commit yourself to God. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Ruth didn’t just commit her way to Naomi, she committed herself to God. She was faithful to keep her promise, and because of that, God orchestrated a husband and home where she and her mother could thrive.

Imagine what God could do if you commit yourself to Him. The one who charted the stars in the sky, the seasons on earth, and the tides of the ocean has everything set in just the right place to work just as He wants it to work. More than all of his creation, He loves you. He loves you enough to give His own Son so you might have communion with Him. 

Now, imagine what the Creator could do if you committed yourself to Him and let Him organize your life. You wouldn’t have to worry about a thing! The right people and the right circumstances would come straight to your door, that is the proven destiny of those who are loyal to Him.

A Sure Fire Way To Find Favor With People

Ever known an envious person? Someone who, instead of smiling at another’s success, they kind of clench their teeth and mutter something?

Imagine for a second what it would be like if you had ten brothers who all hated you out of envy. All ten of them. And I mean, hated you. Well, that was Joseph’s life. His dad liked him the best and definitely didn’t mind showing it. He gave him the best clothes, the best food, and spoiled him with just about anything he wanted. While the other sons sat way up the nosebleed section, Joseph and his  dad had box office seats.

That envy and jealousy grew into a frenzy. Enraged with anger, these brothers decided to murder Joseph. If it wasn’t for the oldest brother stepping in at the last moment, they would have. Instead, the older brother convinced them to sell Joseph as a slave, and tell their dad that a wild animal had killed him. And so they did.

But there was something about Joseph. Wherever he went, he practiced something that gave him favor with almost everyone. The man who bought him as a slave saw that something in Joseph, and without hesitation put everything he owned into his care: all his money, his house, his servants, even his family.

While Joseph served this man, he is wrongfully accused of rape and gets thrown into prison. But again, the prison guard sees that Joseph is cut from a different cloth, and soon enough he puts him in charge of all the prisoners.

What was that something? Why did Joseph always have favor wherever he went? It was not his education, his good looks, or knowing how to communicate. It was his commitment to kindness and truth. These two qualities governed his relationships.

Kindness and Truth

Proverbs 3:3-4 [NASB] Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

Kindness means being helpful. It means you look and see what needs to be done, and without being asked, you find a solution and do it.

Truth means you do what you say.  It means that your word is your bond. If you promise to do something, you make sure it happens.

In slavery and in jail, Joseph was helpful and dependable. And because he pursued kindness and truth, he continued to see the bad turn into something good, time and time again. He found favor with everyone. When people saw he was genuine in his character, when they saw he was kind and trustworthy, they looked for ways to promote him.

Joseph teaches us a good lesson in all of this.

  1. Life isn’t about circumstance, it’s about our response to circumstance. I love this quote by Charles Swindal, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it”. Joseph responded to his brothers’ violent envy and the lying about character, not by wallowing in pity, but by showing kindness and serving wherever God placed him.
  2. You gain favor by being trustworthy and being ready to help those around you, even when it hurts. Many times people quit serving when they are misunderstood, rejected, disrespected, lied to, or not treated the way they expect. It happens all the time in leadership.  Someone is moving along and they get offended, and they quit serving.  Five years later they are bitter, resentful, and stuck in a rut. But Joseph was highly favored because he found a place to serve no matter what happened to him, no matter who didn’t like him.
  3. Live for something bigger than yourself. When the Egyptian woman set a trap for Joseph to commit adultery with her, his response was, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”  When you live for something higher than yourself, a life of godliness, people notice and favor just sort of follows you.

If you want your relationships to be blessed, be kind and be trustworthy, and watch God give you favor with those around you. It is bound to happen.

 

How to Restore Your Broken Relationship

He hated his father.

The father had left his mother to go after another woman. The boy went from a stable home with a mom and dad, to being the referee in a dramatic war between them. He felt stuck and defeated, and it was his dad’s fault.

But something happened to his dad after that. He became a Christian. It’s true that he was far from perfect, but something had changed. He genuinely wanted to live for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

This father, now a new creation, knew what he needed to do.  He saw the damage he had done to his son. And so, humbling himself and taking full responsibility, he apologized to his son.

It was his fault for the failed marriage.
It was his fault for the broken home.
It was his fault for his son’s pain.

By apologizing to his son, that father had planted a seed. A seed of hope. A seed of restoring a broken bond between a father and son. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually that seed sprouted and began to grow. The young man saw his father’s change and commitment to Christ was genuine, and within a few years, he wanted it for himself.

Today, the two enjoy life together the way that dads and sons were meant to, the way they were created to. What happened? How was a destroyed relationship brought back to life again?

Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 5:23-24

…if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person…. 

Leave your gift, he says. Be reconciled.

I am continually amazed at the wisdom of God. He doesn’t let us escape into being religious “do-gooders”. Leave your gift, he said, and “go be reconciled.”

The truth is, people who have been admitted their faults  to God find it easier to admit them to others.

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

When we get right with God, we have confidence to live in humility. The more we understand God’s love, the more than love spills into our relationships.

Almost everyone respects humility and courage. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a story of heroic men and women doing courageous acts. And humility means choosing to lower your pride to do the right thing, and that choice takes courage. The father who had ruined his family needed courage to reunite with his son, courage to admit his fault. God designed these two qualities to work like a magnet, by drawing people we have offended close to us. 

Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Admitting one’s faults opens the door for healing to come in. It is certainly not easy. It is easier to live in fear of how those offended might respond, but true love seeks reconciliation even when it means having to face the consequences.

Make it right with someone today. Remember what Jesus said, “Leave your gift, and go be reconciled.”

Experiencing Full Life in Africa

I had just arrived in Nakuru, Kenya after a long, long overseas flight. I was taken to my motel just north of the city. It was a humble place, nearly a century old, and a bit grimy. It was a small simple room with a narrow mattress. After traveling for what seemed like a century, I finally rested my head under a mosquito net hoping to get some sleep when I was awakened by the hotel steward. He had come to my door to tell me that someone was here to see me.  

The porter walked me to the lobby where I was greeted by a Kenyan woman from the church I had come minister to. She informed me that she had come to take me shopping. “I’m here to serve the man of God!” she said with a grin from ear to ear. It was flattering, but there was no way I could accept. I was here to serve them! Not the other way around. “No, I don’t need anything,” I said, “let me give you something.” But she shook her head. “No, mister. We will go to the market, and I will buy you something. That is that. I must honor the man of God!” And she turned and strode off. I followed.

At the time, Kenya had an unemployment rate of 40%. I had never seen this kind of poverty. Near the motel was an outdoor market, and there she bought me some small but elegant Kenyan animal carvings. She kept saying that she was doing this for “the Lord”, and when she said that, her face would light up. I could see how much she was enjoying it, and for me, it was incredibly humbling. I didn’t know her income or her life’s story, but here she was giving up her morning and money to honor the Lord.

I realized I witnessing something sacred. Right before my eyes was the law of sowing and reaping. It wasn’t about me at all. That woman loved God and wanted to honor Him by honoring me. I knew that soon she would later reap a reward for her sacrifice because her heart was seeking a way to honor God with her time and money.  

2 Corinthians  9:6 AMP – Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].

Read that again: “…he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously.” I had traveled to Kenya to serve that Pastor, and she had traveled to my motel to serve me. She had learned of this principle of generosity from her pastor who had never once petitioned me for money. Instead, it was he who paid for my room at the motel and taken care of me during my stay.  

I’ve been to many developing nations stricken with poverty. Most of the time, when an American shows up, hands go out, and honestly, we are always glad to fill those hands. We want to give, just as God has given to us. But this time, it was different. It was as if she and her pastor were saying, “God says if we are generous, we will be sowing seeds for our future. And when we are in need, He will provide.” They believed it.

Over the years, I watched that woman’s church and her pastor prosper. They have planted churches, run a rehab center, and even helped other churches financially. It’s amazing what that church in Kenya has accomplished. All because of members like her know and practice generosity. Here’s what I learned:

1. It is not how much you have, but what you do with what you have.  

You do not need to be rich to be a giver. Just sow (give) from what God has already given you. Look at what the Lord says in Luke 6:38,

Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.

2. Bold happy givers are magnetic.

The woman who came up to “make sure she gave” really inspired me! You could tell she was genuinely happy, and having fun too! I enjoyed being around her, the pastor, and their church. Sometimes, talking about giving makes people feel uncomfortable. But a joyful giver spreads joy to those around them.

2 Corinthians 9:7  Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes.

3. Generosity brings favor.

A few years after that visit to Nakuru, I returned and preached for that pastor to his congregation of 10,000 people. Their church was held in a simple pole barn structure without walls, and people walked for hours just to attend. But of all the churches I have visited, they were the happiest Christians I’ve ever met. And I knew that their happiness was the direct result of living a generous life. As Isaiah writes,

Isaiah 32:8 But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.

 

Another Car, Another Miracle

I had finally found a way to pay for a trip where my wife and I could visit her family. Libby’s folks lived in Massachusetts (a whopping 2100+ miles away), and she hadn’t been home for five years. But now, I had a plan.  

We had a second car at the time. It was an old clunker, but I reasoned that by selling it, we could use the funds to make the long drive to New England. Then, as I was counseling a young lady who had just come to Christ leaving a very bad life behind her, she told me she had an opportunity for a job. A good job, too. “Great!” I said. I thought, God is already setting you in the right direction, He’ll get you out of this one!  “The only thing is,” she continued with slight hesitation, “I need transportation” and let out a sigh. As soon as she finished the sentence, I heard in my heart the Lord say, Give her the car.

What?! What do you mean “Give her the car”?? Mulling this over a minute, I whispered back to God, “If you want me to do that, YOU need to tell Libby, not me!” But as the days passed, that gentle tug on my heart never went away. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I just knew the best thing to do was to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So, I shared it with Libby and we agreed to give the car away.

With our second car gone and the trip only a few weeks away, there was no money for our family reunion. The whole trip hinged on the money we were going to make from selling that old clunker. And so, with no idea how we were going to pull this off, God did His thing.  

Without me asking anyone for a dime, in less than a month I was given enough money to make the trip. We were able to drive to Massachusetts, and had a wonderful time with our family. Libby was elated to be with her family, and for me, that was priceless. And for the first time in my life, I returned home from a trip with money in my pocket. But the blessing didn’t stop there. A week after we returned home, I was given a check for twice the amount my old car was worth!

It was as though God was throwing his business card on the table. It was like He was saying, “Obey Me and be generous, and you won’t need to worry about a thing.” And for years and years, I’ve seen Him come through.

Proverbs 11:25
The generous will prosper; 
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

This is a law that works. Just be generous. Live generously and watch resources come. Build your life knowing God has more that you need.

Proverbs 11:24
Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.

As Christians, we don’t hold onto our blessings, scared they might disappear. We loosen our grip on what we have to live generously.

Acts 20: 35 (NASB) “…you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Perhaps this will surprise you, but the thing is, it is really fun to give. In fact, as I look around, the happiest people I know are generous people. Not only is the experience of giving enjoyable, but afterwards you get to see how our Creator God gives back in such creative ways. It will leave you with a true sense of awe.