Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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Born Again

July 18th, 2017

Salvation is never a by-product of religion.

“You have been born again through the living and enduring Word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, born again.”

Life is a precious gift. A friend of mine co-authored a book, “A Trip Around the Sun.” Each calendar year completes a trip around the sun. For me, today is an anniversary of those journeys. It’s my birthday. I have collected more than a few of those and I am grateful for every one. There have been many grace-blessed days for which I am grateful. I concur with the Psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV. I was born, July 18 in Carbondale, Illinois, to a young, ministry couple, Raymond and Mildred Randolph. They were the best birthday gifts I ever received.

But today, I would also like to acknowledge another birthday, a day in January, 1952. It was a Sunday night service where my parents pastored in North Venice, Illinois, when an evangelist urged people to be, “born again.” Even as young as I was and as little life that I had lived, I realized I was a sinner who needed a Savior, not so much because of what a young preteen had done, but because of what I had not done. I had not before recognized that without Christ I was a sinner who needed a Savior. I went forward for prayer and committed my heart and life to God.

Salvation is never a by-product of religion. Read Titus 3:3-7 NIV. Salvation is the product of grace and one’s faith in Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not the origin.

Be advised; the Bible is clear, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 NIV. The Bible describes that redemptive process as being, “born again.” John explained this process of spiritual transformation in a simple way: receiving Him and believing He is our Savior. “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13 NIV.

As to your natural birth, you made neither choice nor decision. However, your spiritual birth requires deliberate choice, and a decision only you can make. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:8-10 NIV. Those last words are sobering, or should be. “Though everyone else in the world is a liar, God is true.” Romans 3:4 NLT.

It is probable that the majority of you who are reading EveryDay Life have understood your need for a Savior. But for anyone who has not, I urge you to invite Jesus to become your Savior and Lord right now; this day can be when you are born again. There is a joy awaiting you unrealized and an eternal life that is unimaginable. The Bible promises, “’No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit . . We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit Who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10/12 NIV. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23 NIV.

Maybe you don’t fully understand it all. No one ever does. There is an element of faith in God and trust in the truth of His nature and Word that is required. Nicodemus also had questions when he came to Jesus. “Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked . .  Jesus answered, ‘Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”  Read John 3:3-7 NIV. I don’t know how all of that works, but I know God does, and His Word is true and His salvation is real.

Today, I pray for you to always keep your full faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Christian Communications 2017

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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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A Disciple’s Life

July 12th, 2017

Lack of discipline results in lack of accomplishment.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“A Disciple’s Life.”

A disciple is a learner. And discipline is an essential requirement. None of us learn well or do well without discipline. Discipline is an expression of love, with the lifestyle of a disciple as its result. Solomon wrote, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV. The Hebrew word for discipline includes, “correction with instruction.” Our Father’s discipline is always an expression of His love and care for us. We naturally prefer the easier choices and less difficult paths, but that is never the way of a disciple. Apart from discipline, success is limited or even lacking altogether. Lack of discipline results in lack of accomplishment. For best use of your time, or being clear about priorities, or managing your activities, discipline is essential.

The similarity between the words, discipline and disciple, is no mere coincidence. Jesus spoke a great deal about discipleship and was clear and uncompromising, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24 NLT. That’s discipleship, plain and simple. Self-importance diminishes, sacrifice and service to others increase, and practical obedience to Lordship becomes your lifestyle. Obedience is the first and essential characteristic of a disciple’s life. With simple words, Jesus made any inconsistency glaring,“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46 NIV. There is no good answer to Jesus’ question. Anything less than absolute obedience is unacceptable.

Jesus understood the rigorous discipline that being His disciple would involve. There must be no second thoughts, no slack of effort, no lack of sacrifice. God’s blessings flow from spiritual disciplines. Mistakenly, discipline can suggest harshness, or unfairness, or punishment to those who do not properly understand the distinction. Punishment is concerned with exacting a painful price for a past mistake.

Biblical discipline is a loving act of correction and prevention.  The accent of discipline is correction for preventing future mistakes and providing a strong foundation for a better future. The concept of Biblical discipline implies relationship, and is best defined as, “The whole realm of a father’s instruction and correction of his son.” There is no growing or learning without discipline.

The Bible teaches the true heart of Godly discipline as well as your appropriate response, whether to earthly authority or God’s authority. “Have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, His children? He said, ‘My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves’ . . For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful! But afterward, there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Read Hebrews 12:5-11 NLT. Afterward is when you will be thankful for Godly discipline. As you mature in Christ, joyfully embracing His discipline, you learn the joy and liberty in self-discipline, “For the fruit of the Spirit is self-discipline.” Galatians 5:23 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to welcome the disciplines of life and the Holy Spirit.

Christian Communications 2017-0857

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Comfort and Comforting

July 6th, 2017

Comfort is when God holds you in His everlasting arms.

“The God of compassion and all comfort Who comforts us in all our troubles.” 2 Corinthians 1:3 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Comfort and Comforting.”

Life comes with challenges. The Bible is always direct and honest. “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.” Read James 1:1-5 JBP. In Christ, problems are not apart from grace and your pain is not without purpose.

When challenges come, comfort is a necessity not a luxury. Comfort comes in many forms – a simple, sincere word of care or note of encouragement, an arm around your shoulder, a reassuring word, a sincere and understanding smile, a friend’s expression of concern, an understanding glance, or just the quiet company of a friend. In the best of all forms, comfort comes from God and His Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name.” John 14:26 KJV.

When you have seen a Mother hold and comfort an ailing child or calm and reassure a frightened child – sometimes by her words, sometimes by her touch, or just by her presence –  until the crying stops, the child settles, and rests safely and quietly in her arms. In those moments, you have seen God’s comfort. Comfort is found in the loving touch, or the kind and encouraging words, or the quiet, compassionate presence of a friend. If you have entered the pain of a friend or felt the fear another feels, you have offered God’s comfort.

That’s a practical and tender picture of what God does for any child of His. God comforts them. I have watched elderly saints struggling with pain that no medication seems to help until God invisibly takes them in His arms and whispers words of peace and assurance. I have witnessed a graveside where hearts ached and tears flowed, until God Word touches broken hearts and they begin to heal. It is very true, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV.

Jesus comforted His disciples when He promised, “And I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever . . the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” Read John 14:16-18 KJV. I find it reassuring that Jesus described the Holy Spirit as, “the Comforter,” variously translated as, “Helper, Counselor, Encourager.” Comfort is much more than something God does; the Comforter is who God is. Holding you in His everlasting arms, God is the practical and tender picture of comfort.

You may have seen this warning label on a package, “Fragile, handle with care.”  Life can be painful. People can be fragile. God handles people with tender, loving care. You and I should do the same. Life will hold its share of bumps and bruises. When life is uncomfortable, when difficulties multiply, when problems overwhelm, when your heart is breaking, when you think you cannot make it through another day, that’s when you need to receive and embrace the God of all comfort.

God’s comforting you has a purpose well beyond yourself. You are comforted to be comforting to others. God will not let your pain be without purpose. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.“ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to experience God’s ample care and comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2017-5259

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