Rewards of Giving

‘I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you.’ 2 Corinthians 12:15 NLT

The apostle Paul wrote, ‘I don’t want what you have—I want you… I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.’ (2 Corinthians 12:14–15 NLT) Paul found his greatest fulfilment in giving, not receiving. For him, giving was its own reward. For him, being successful meant making others successful. For him, being joyful meant bringing joy to others.

That’s because he didn’t look to people for his reward, but to God: ‘Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do.’ (Ephesians 6:8 NLT) The hardest thing for most of us to do is to fight our natural instinct to put ourselves first. That’s why it’s important for us to continually examine our motives and make sure we’re not sliding into selfishness.

If you want to check your motives, follow the example set by Benjamin Franklin. Every day he asked himself two questions. When he got up in the morning he would ask, ‘What good am I going to do today?’ And before he went to bed he would ask, ‘What good have I done today?’ If you can answer those questions with selflessness and integrity, you can keep yourself on track. Seeing those in need, and giving to meet that need, keeps your priorities and your perspective right. It increases the quality of life for both the giver and the receiver. The truth is, there is no life as empty as the self-centred life, and there is no life as centred as the self-empty life.

SoulFood: Num 32:25–33:56, Mark 9:14–29, Ps 18:1–29, Pro 11:19–21

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

Numbers 32:25–33:56 ()

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25 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben said to Moses, “Your servants will do as my lord commands. 26 Our little ones, our wives, our livestock, and all our cattle shall remain there in the cities of Gilead, 27 but your servants will pass over, every man who is armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord orders.”

28 So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest and to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel. 29 And Moses said to them, “If the people of Gad and the people of Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the LORD, will pass with you over the Jordan and the land shall be subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession. 30 However, if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.” 31 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben answered, “What the LORD has said to your servants, we will do. 32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan.”

33 And Moses gave to them, to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land and its cities with their territories, the cities of the land throughout the country. 34 And the people of Gad built Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran, fortified cities, and folds for sheep. 37 And the people of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, and Baal-meon (their names were changed), and Sibmah. And they gave other names to the cities that they built. 39 And the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. 40 And Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he settled in it. 41 And Jair the son of Manasseh went and captured their villages, and called them Havvoth-jair. 42 And Nobah went and captured Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.

33:1 These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the LORD, and these are their stages according to their starting places. They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them. On their gods also the LORD executed judgments.

So the people of Israel set out from Rameses and camped at Succoth. And they set out from Succoth and camped at Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. And they set out from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which is east of Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol. And they set out from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and they went a three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham and camped at Marah. And they set out from Marah and came to Elim; at Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. 10 And they set out from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. 11 And they set out from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. 12 And they set out from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. 13 And they set out from Dophkah and camped at Alush. 14 And they set out from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. 15 And they set out from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. 16 And they set out from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah. 17 And they set out from Kibroth-hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth. 18 And they set out from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah. 19 And they set out from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon-perez. 20 And they set out from Rimmon-perez and camped at Libnah. 21 And they set out from Libnah and camped at Rissah. 22 And they set out from Rissah and camped at Kehelathah. 23 And they set out from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher. 24 And they set out from Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah. 25 And they set out from Haradah and camped at Makheloth. 26 And they set out from Makheloth and camped at Tahath. 27 And they set out from Tahath and camped at Terah. 28 And they set out from Terah and camped at Mithkah. 29 And they set out from Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah. 30 And they set out from Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth. 31 And they set out from Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan. 32 And they set out from Bene-jaakan and camped at Hor-haggidgad. 33 And they set out from Hor-haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah. 34 And they set out from Jotbathah and camped at Abronah. 35 And they set out from Abronah and camped at Ezion-geber. 36 And they set out from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin (that is, Kadesh). 37 And they set out from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the edge of the land of Edom.

38 And Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died there, in the fortieth year after the people of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. 39 And Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor.

40 And the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the people of Israel.

41 And they set out from Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah. 42 And they set out from Zalmonah and camped at Punon. 43 And they set out from Punon and camped at Oboth. 44 And they set out from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the territory of Moab. 45 And they set out from Iyim and camped at Dibon-gad. 46 And they set out from Dibon-gad and camped at Almon-diblathaim. 47 And they set out from Almon-diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo. 48 And they set out from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho; 49 they camped by the Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.

50 And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 51 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. 53 And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54 You shall inherit the land by lot according to your clans. To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance. Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his. According to the tribes of your fathers you shall inherit. 55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56 And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”

Mark 9:14–29 ()

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14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Psalm 18:1–29 ()

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To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

18:1   I love you, O LORD, my strength.
  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.
  The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;
  the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
  In my distress I called upon the LORD;
    to my God I cried for help.
  From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.
  Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations also of the mountains trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.
  Smoke went up from his nostrils,
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.
  He bowed the heavens and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.
10   He rode on a cherub and flew;
    he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11   He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
    thick clouds dark with water.
12   Out of the brightness before him
    hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13   The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
    and the Most High uttered his voice,
    hailstones and coals of fire.
14   And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
    he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15   Then the channels of the sea were seen,
    and the foundations of the world were laid bare
  at your rebuke, O LORD,
    at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16   He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters.
17   He rescued me from my strong enemy
    and from those who hated me,
    for they were too mighty for me.
18   They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
    but the LORD was my support.
19   He brought me out into a broad place;
    he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20   The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21   For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22   For all his rules were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23   I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.
24   So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25   With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26   with the purified you show yourself pure;
    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27   For you save a humble people,
    but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28   For it is you who light my lamp;
    the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
29   For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.

Proverbs 11:19–21 ()

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19   Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
    but he who pursues evil will die.
20   Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD,
    but those of blameless ways are his delight.
21   Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
    but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.

Fri 15 May, 2020


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