Spiritual Practices

October 9th, 2015

“The Father has blessed us . . with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual practices.”

Days can be busy and noisy, leaving you over-stimulated and weary. Everything seems rushed and everyone hurried. All too often, the urgent displaces the important. The pace of our lives and the noise of our surroundings diminish things vital to our well-being. More tragically, you can lose something of yourself somewhere in the noise and busyness. Unrelenting activity produces a confused identity. A conviction of spiritual identity provides: certainty about purpose, clarity of direction, and sufficiency of your God-given gifts and abilities. So much depends upon a true sense of your God-given identity.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude. We are so much like the disciples – often busy and tired. Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV. Time alone with God is where you rediscover your identity in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV. In his epistles, Paul wrote prolifically about your life, “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV.

Let me suggest spiritual disciplines that strengthen spiritual identity. Practice quiet and solitude. Practice to be quiet and content in God’s presence. Read Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:1-2 NIV. Prioritize time in God’s Word. Regular practice is as important as duration of time. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV. Practice prayer with thanksgiving. Communicating your heart and gratitude to God results in communion with God. “In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Establish Praise and Worship as a lifestyle. Grow comfortable expressing your heart in joyful adoration. Psalm 100. Prioritize edifying Fellowship. You were made for community. Acts 2:46-47 NKJV. That is where you grow and serve best. “Let us not neglect our meeting together . . but encourage and warn one another.” Hebrews 10:23 NLT. Practice Sabbath rest in Christ. God designed life with a rhythm of labor and rest. ”Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” Hebrews 4:1/9-11 NIV. The Sabbath principle incorporates the whole of one’s life before the Lord, abiding in Christ, trusting His finished work on the cross, and celebrating your identity in Christ. Read Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is rooted and built up in Christ Jesus.

Christian Communications


Image and Identity

October 6th, 2015

“You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11 NIV.

Inner tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess.

My thoughts and comments continue today about, “image and identity”

People often confuse image and identity; they may seem similar but are distinctly different. The first is an inadequate imitation of the latter. Image is what you project to others, what you prefer others believe about you. Identity is who and what you really are. Emotional and spiritual tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess. Any disconnect between image and identity creates confusion and dissimulation.

It is significant that at Jesus’ baptism before His public ministry began, the Father affirmed Jesus’ eternal identity. An audible voice from Heaven was heard, “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV. Imagine the strength of the Father’s testimony when others would later dispute His identity and deny His authority.

Image confines you to less than you are; identity frees you to be all God intends. Sin and self conspire to substitute image for identity. They are not interchangeable to God. Jesus evidenced the freedom of identity and humility when He washed the feet of the disciples. John 13:1-17 NKJV. In four statements, John defines Jesus’ identity and the secret of His humility.

(1) Sure Knowledge. “Jesus knowing . .” Jesus had unshakable conviction of unchanging truth. When you know Who God is, you believe what God says.

(2) Sufficient Resource. “. . knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,” When you do God’s will, you will have all you need to succeed.

(3) Sacred Origin. “. . knowing that He had come from God,” When you know where you came from, you can always find your way home.

(4) Secure Destiny. “. . knowing He was going to God.” Your destiny in Christ is irrevocable. Read John 14:1-3 NIV. When your future is sure you are freed to live life fully now.

As was the Jewish custom, a basin of water and towel were at the door when the disciples gathered for the Passover. Apparently, not one of them considered the basin and towel were there for their use. As Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet, Peter remonstrated against Jesus washing his feet. Was his refusal from pride or shame? Peter, like the others, never thought to wash the Messiah’s feet, let alone the feet of his fellow disciples.

Peter’s image of himself and his image of Jesus were radically less than the identity out of which Jesus ministered. “Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself . . to wash the Disciples’ feet.” Read Philippians 2:2-11 NIV. Humility is the byproduct of a Godly identity. Solomon’s wise counsel is this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

Today, I pray that you will not settle for anything less than God created you to be.

Divine Servant , Max Greiner Jr Designs (c)

“Divine Servant”

Max Greiner, Jr. Designs (c)

Christian Communications

Identity Theft

October 2nd, 2015

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Your identity can be fully rediscovered in redemption.

My thoughts and comments today are about “identity theft.”

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, yet many people struggle with a confused identity. You will not discover your identity by looking in the mirror or recounting your achievements and accumulations, nor by the compliments or criticisms from others. Authentic identity comes from knowing who you are in Christ.

Identity theft is a growing problem in our increasingly technological society. Nationally, a new victim of identity theft occurs every two seconds. In 2014, there were 13.1 million victims resulting in thefts of $16 billion. As numerous and disconcerting as those statistics seem, there is a vastly more devastating theft of identity occurring within the hearts and souls of men. The enemy of your soul is relentless in trying to deface the image of Christ in whomever it is found. Nowhere in Scripture is the devil’s tactic to deface one’s God-given identity clearer than in the story of Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, invaded and conquered Israel. Please read Daniel 1. In the first of three invasions, he took young men of royalty and nobility back to Babylon, removing the best and brightest of Israel. Four attempts were made to ultimately remove and replace their Godly identity. Every move was strategic, changing their Godly identity by removing their Jewish heritage and practices while replacing those with the ways and worship of Babylon.

(1) Isolation from previous experiences – nation, faith, family, history, and spiritual heritage and practice. Vs 3. Separation from Godly reinforcement – family, Godly fellowship, church, and spiritual practices of prayer and God’s Word – initiated his devilish scheme to displace their previous dependence and trust.
(2) Indoctrination by replacing their beliefs, convictions, and language with “the language and literature of the Babylonians.” Vs 4. Be advised; culture today is a powerful tool of conversion, shaping your thoughts, desires, beliefs, behavior, standards, mores and morals.
(3) Influence by reorienting their appetites from kosher dietary practices to a “daily provision of the King’s delicacies and the wine he drank.” Vs 5. Jewish practice included a kosher diet. Babylon’s purpose was to create a new taste for what they could not provide for themselves, becoming dependent on the King’s good will and benevolence.
(4) Identity theft was the devilish strategy all along. The final scheme was to change their Hebrew names to foreign names attributed to Babylonian gods, discrediting who they were and persuading who they were meant to be. Vs 6-7. When I was a teen, I rarely left the house without my Dad reminding me, “Allen, don’t forget you are a Randolph.”

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. A devious king could not steal his identity. Daniel knew who he was because he knew Who was the Source and Sovereign of his life. Your identity cannot be confused or compromised if you know who you are in Christ. Read Ephesians 2:3-6 NIV. For all who are “in Christ,” your identity can be fully rediscovered in redemption. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Read Ephesians 1:3-9 NIV. “[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Read Romans 8:37-39 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is assured and secure in Christ.


Today’s EveryDay Life is a continuation of the previous devotional, “History and Destiny,” from a recent Sunday ministry. You can listen to that teaching at the following link by clicking on “Identity Theft.”

Christian Communications 1653

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History and Destiny

September 25th, 2015

“For by grace you have been saved through faith . . the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 NKJV.

Your identity is not found in the debris of your past failures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “history and destiny.”

Everyone has a history; everyone has a destiny. History is who you have been; destiny is who you are in Christ. History traces the path to where you are; destiny promises who you can become. “God Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Read Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV.

It seems we are more easily preoccupied with our own or others’ past record of struggles and failures than with the possibilities and opportunities still ahead. Possibilities for you are limitless in Christ. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. In redemption, God replaces your history with destiny.

In the beginning, it was wonderfully simple. God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV. Sin is common to us all, but sin cannot change your origin. You came from God’s heart and hands. But life – your faults and failures as well as the hurts and misunderstandings from the fallen humanity of others – clouded the image with which you were created and your understanding of the Father’s purpose for you. Subsequent inability to reconcile the way things are with the way things should have been produces inner tension and confusion.

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, but many people struggle with a confused identity. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:29-30 NIV. I recognize three challenges that confront your assurance of identity.

(1) The brokenness of our own self-knowledge. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV. History is rehearsed in your memory with excruciating detail. You have to discover anew your identity in Jesus before all the stuff happened that you allowed to shape who you now believe yourself to be. Your identity is not found in the debris of your failures or the failures of others toward you. Believe God and His Word.

(2) The ill-founded evaluation of others. Your sense of self is wrongly shaped by others’ opinions, criticisms, and judgments of you. Leave all judgment to Him who judges righteously. The judgments of anyone, including your own, mean little until the Righteous Judge, who knows even the thoughts and intent of the heart, examines one’s life. The Apostle Paul foresaw that day, “At that time, each will receive his praise from God.” Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV.

(3) The lengthy process of rebuilding broken lives. Never assume the difficulty, delay, or slow progress mean success is not yours. Recovery takes a lot of grace, patience, obedience, perseverance, hope, and faith. “Being confident of this . . that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV.

God rebuilds what self and sin have damaged or destroyed, through daily application of the Word of God, the work of Christ, the fellowship of His Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit to restore His “image and likeness” anew. God replaces your history with destiny. Your Identity in Christ is assured and secure. Read Colossians 1:21-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live confidently, eternally secure in Christ Jesus.

To be continued . . .

Last Sunday, I taught on “Identity Theft” at Freedom Fellowship, New Braunfels, TX. The teaching is also available at their website, freedomnb.org. Then scroll down to the sermon title to listen or download the teaching. Please respond if you listen so I will know if audio teachings would be helpful in the future on EveryDay Life . . .

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Christian Communications 654


Unfinished Business

September 22nd, 2015

“As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV.

Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unfinished business.”

There are probably things in your life left unfinished for various reasons, some unavoidably and some unwisely. There are things started but later found not to be all that important, or matters begun without enough commitment, time, or resource to sustain effort. At other times pressing priorities displace previous intentions. Some situations require others’ cooperation or willingness, which they may be unwilling to provide. Occasionally though, there are things that should not be left undone. Jesus chided the Pharisees because they were careful about things important to them but casual about things important to God. To those more religious than righteous, Jesus said, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23 NKJV. Do all that you can every time you can.

Important matters require closure. Jesus provides a great example. Imagine the joy in Jesus’ heart as he surveyed His life, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 NKJV. There is a satisfaction of soul that accompanies obedience. It is important to know, “the things (God) has given you to do,” and to do them. Even on the cross, in His pain and suffering Jesus looked to His Father and confidently declared, “It is finished.” John 19:30 NKJV. Unfinished business is neither wise nor profitable. We are all prone to ignore the awkward or avoid the unpleasant situations that would be difficult, painful, or personally costly. Doing so leaves a life more complicated than is healthy.

In light of the coming resurrection and judgment, Paul wrote, “I always strive to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men.” Acts 24:16 NKJV. Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past with either God or man. Leave no unfinished business with either. Jesus told a touching story about a loving father and his two very different sons. Read Luke 15:11-31 NKJV. After a lengthy time squandering his father’s generosity, the younger son realized vital relationships were improperly unfinished. “When he came to himself . . he said to himself . . I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, I have sinned.” There needed to be Godly repentance and restoration with the family – the younger son with both his father and brother, and the elder son with brother and father.  The Heavenly Father was reflected when forgiveness and restoration were offered freely to both.

This is the good news. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. Allow nothing to settle in your heart or life that needs Godly closure with God or man. Is there a family relationship, broken friendship, discarded promise, or neglected obedience awaiting your initiative? Paul gave good counsel, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV. But be advised; everything cannot be sorted out single-handedly, but the initiative is yours.

Today, I pray for you that your past will be clean and your conscience clear.

Christian Communications 103107

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