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The final days and hours of a year are a good time to honestly evaluate our own hearts and lives. Have you loved your brother as you ought? Is there a brother in Christ against whom you are holding a grudge? Have you offended anyone and failed to ask forgiveness and seek restoration? If so, take the step of humility and restore. Do this before a new year dawns!
Throughout his realm, Duke Wenceslas I earned the nickname “The Good” for his deeds of piety and charity. He strived to defend his borders from the invasions of the Hungarian clans called the Magyars. The duke also promoted the expansion of Christianity throughout his dominions. His leadership had a positive impact upon his people; after his death, many stories and legends would spread in remembrance of him. Some of the reports surely are true, while others are questionable.
We are all prone to think of our “neighbor” in the comfortable circle of those whom we already love. It is easy to define neighbor to include our close friends at church, the next-door neighbor who watches over our house when we are away, the coworker who shares our viewpoints, and the people with whom we enjoy socializing. But what about the family on the other side of the street with the barking dog? What about the coworker who is continually gossiping about other coworkers? What about the one person who always seems to ask the wrong question at the wrong time? What about people from a different cultural background than ours? Are these our “neighbors” too?
One of the most astonishing series of promises ever given from God to man were bestowed to Abraham. When the Lord called Abraham to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees, God promised him: “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2–3).
The obvious implications of the eighth commandment can be easily seen. Burglary and robbery are certainly forbidden by the words, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). But there are more subtle ways to steal than to break a window of a man’s house, enter and empty his gun rack, and clean out any jewelry boxes. As Christians, we are tempted to steal every day in all sorts of ways.
If we were to visit the streets of any major city in England at the turn of the nineteenth century, we would be witness to a sad and pitiable sight. Roving bands of orphaned children begged and stole their way through life. Often they were dressed in rags, with little to wear and nothing to eat. One German-born pastor and his wife could not simply pass by while orphans died by the hundreds in the streets.
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Are you a giver or a taker? Of course, the goal is to be a giver! However, in order to be a giver, we must first become a receiver.
Few people knew that William Borden was a millionaire. As the manager of much wealth, he still chose to dress nicely but simply. Meanwhile, he quietly wrote checks to Bible societies and mission works that amounted to thousands of dollars, but his gifts were always given in secret.
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Doing more than is expected is a powerful way to show someone you love him. When you do more than others expect, it will probably be remembered for a long time. This happened to me one day.
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Generosity is demonstrating the nature of God by wisely reinvesting the resources that He has entrusted to us. Generosity breaks the bondage of greed and overcomes the love of money.
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