As this week my new book has been released, I have been rejoicing again in the wonderful ways the Lord has blessed me through the years, including recently as I walked with Him through the deep valley of cancer. I rejoice and give to Him praise, for in my time of struggle the Lord has always been with me; loving me, holding me, speaking to me, and giving to me all that I have needed. Through all of my struggles, the Lord has freely given so much, and I am and will forever be so very grateful. In response to the Lord’s great grace to me, I have longed to freely give to others what I have freely received.
Due to the significant costs of printing and shipping books, and because of the rates that are charged by various book distributors, I am regrettably unable to freely give hard copies of my book to anyone and everyone, though I wish that I could do so. But by God’s grace I am able to make it available for free in eBook format to all who wish to download it. The eBook edition of Walking with God through Deep Valleys is available for free on Amazon, Google Play, and Barnes and Noble. All of these links can be found at https://anekopress.com/product/walking-with-god-through-deep-valleys-ebook/. Doing this gives me joy, as I am able in this way to give to others of what my Lord has given to me. Reflecting on this lately, I have heard the Lord speaking to me yet again on what it means to freely give as we have freely received.
Perhaps you can remember as I do what your primary focus was when you were a little child on Christmas day. If you were like me as a little child, then you were most excited about and focused on whatever gifts you were receiving. As a child, this was what you longed for and dreamed about. But as you grew and matured, did not your perspective begin to change? Did you discover, as I did, that you were were much more focused on the joy of giving than on the joy of of receiving, for now you longed to bless others? This change comes with maturing.
The Lord wants all of His children to spiritually mature in this way, so that we increasingly become less concerned with getting everything that we desire, and more concerned with blessing and loving and freely giving to others, just as we have so freely received.
Reflect with me now on how blessed we are to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, for He with infinite grace and sacrificial love has given to us extravagant, immeasurable, and unmerited gifts of everlasting life, and love, and purpose, and hope.
Let us all realize afresh that were it not for the Lord and His free gifts to us of love and grace, we would still be hopelessly lost and in mortal danger, having nothing of lasting value. But now, because of His great mercy and generous love toward us, we have been rescued, and we are now receiving from His hands all that we need for today and forever.
The earliest disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who were called Apostles were surely in awe of the Lord’s anointing, and of His great power, wisdom, and mercy. They were undoubtedly filled often with incredulous joy and amazement at their great privilege of being with and knowing the long awaited Messiah, and of their being so deeply loved and personally chosen by the Lord to follow Him. Being so greatly blessed by Jesus, they were determined and committed to follow Him wherever He would lead them, and to do whatever He would call them to do.
And so in the 10th chapter of Matthew’s gospel we read of the Lord’s first assignment to His Apostles, when He sent them out in His name and on His behalf. As Jesus sent them out, He gave them very clear instructions. He told them to faithfully proclaim the good news of the Lord, that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”, and then with the Lord’s anointing, on His behalf, and in His name they were to continue the very works that the Lord was doing. In addition to proclaiming the excellent news of His Kingdom, Jesus instructed them to, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8).
Surely the Apostles realized that in their own strength and abilities, they could not possibly do any of these things. But the Lord of All wanted all of them to know, and now He wants all of us to fully know, that whenever He calls us to minister in His name, no matter our context or circumstances, He will always equip us to do it. Jesus wants you and me to know that with His anointing, and as we minister in His name, we will be greatly blessed and enabled to offer to others the amazing and priceless gifts that we have freely received from the Lord.
Through the years it has been my own great joy to do the things that our Lord instructed and enabled His earliest apostles to do. I too have been blessed to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ wherever He has sent me. I too have seen the Lord set captives free. I too have witnessed His miracles of healing in body, soul, and spirit. And like His first disciples (see Luke 10:17), I too have rejoiced greatly in seeing His deliverance of people who had been trapped in spiritual bondage. How very blessed I have been, and how blessed are all who know and love and serve the Lord!
In Matthew 10 we read that after Jesus gave instructions to His Apostles about what they were to proclaim on His behalf, and how they were to minister in His name, we find in verse 8 that Jesus then revealed a guiding principle that applies to us today. The Lord said, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
In other words, just as as God has freely and extravagantly given to you, you are now blessed and called to freely give to others. The Apostle Paul made a similar point in his parting counsel to the elders of the Church in Ephesus. Quoting the words of Jesus who supremely lived and completely modeled this truth, he tells us that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Act 20:35).
Jesus surely demonstrated this principle, didn’t He? Concerning Himself the Lord said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). This is precisely what He did for you and me.
Talk about generous, extravagant giving! Our Lord willingly and freely gave His own blood and life for our salvation. He dearly loves you and me, so with deep and infinite love He has longed for each of us to share and enjoy His love now and forever. For this reason our Lord was willing to give His all, even to suffer, bleed, and die for us. This was the price that was fully paid by Jesus for our salvation.
Whenever a recipient of such grace fully grasps that we have done nothing to deserve such a sacrifice of love, and there is nothing we can ever do to earn it, we must then consider how we are going to respond to what our God has done for us. The Lord has thus reminded me of two primary responses that we are now called and enabled to do. The Lord is calling me and you to Gratefully Love and Generously Give.
1. Gratefully Love – Jesus calls and enables us to gratefully love even as He has loved us. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). He said it again in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” The Apostle Paul emphasized this too in his letter addressed to the Church of Ephesus, saying: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). We who are grateful to God for His help will surely do so.
As our Lord so clearly said, this is how people can know that we are truly His disciples, for sacrificial love is still the primary characteristic of God, and of His children. The Apostle John who was himself a true recipient of the Lord’s deep love, and who thus regarded and referred to Himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), also instructed the Church to be loving others as our Lord has loved us.
John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). In other words, we who have been so faithfully loved by God are now to be people who gratefully love.
2. Generously Give – We who have grasped that we are recipients of God’s great and amazing gifts of love and infinite grace are now called by the Lord to generously give, even as we have received. To His disciples Jesus said this very plainly. He said to them as He now says to us, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). In other words, in the same way that we have received from the Lord, we are now to freely give to others.
So how has our Lord given to us? He has given to us extravagantly. He has given to us lovingly. He has given to us freely and with much gladness and abundance. He has mercifully given to us of His very great treasures, gifts that we could not possibly deserve or earn. We cannot repay or earn His great gifts to us of grace. But we who have freely received from the Lord are now called and equipped to freely give to others even as we have freely received.
And so how are we to give? As our Lord enables us, we too are blessed to give gladly and extravagantly. We are to give lovingly. We are to give with abundance. As we allow our Lord to lead us, we will want to give in His name, and we will do so. We will give not because the gift has been earned, and certainly not because we expect it to be repaid. We who know the Lord Jesus Christ are blessed to freely give, even as we have freely received.