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Archive for February, 2009

The Sky’s the Limit!

February 27th, 2009

I press on toward the goal . . for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

A God-sized goal is: further than your reach, greater than abilities, and bigger than fears.”

My thoughts today are to remind you “the sky’s the limit!”

Can you imagine the excitement and freedom if you were taught to believe that? What would your life be like if you took off the limits – a few real but many imagined. Don’t settle for living a life that is too small. Some one has rightly said that it is better to have tried and failed than to fail to try! Be sure your goals are God’s goals for you. A God-sized goal is: further than your reach, bigger than your fears, and greater than your present abilities. That’s where true success is found.

You will never achieve your best without worthy and noble goals. Never waste your time or resource with things that give you no pride of achieving, nor simply maintaining an objective you have already accomplished. There is always so much more potential ahead for you. But make no mistake; goals do not themselves insure success. Outstanding achievement takes extraordinary enthusiasm, exhaustive energy, extra effort, and extreme exertion.

Joseph carried a life-long objective in his heart – one that preceded his own life and even extended well beyond it. Listen to his words as he prepares to die, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . then you must carry my bones up from this place.” See Genesis 50:24-26/Exodus13:18-19 NIV. What a man! Joseph had a God-sized goal that reached beyond his own ability to achieve – even beyond the extent of his lifetime. That makes some of our little goals look embarrassingly small.

Reaching all your goals is not the highest achievement of success in life. Life is sad, not satisfying, when you have done that. That dubious accomplishment either indicates that your goal was too small to begin with, or that you neglected to replace it with something higher and better that would challenge you to reach beyond earlier successes. A goal should be like the horizon – staying in the distance, calling you forward but never becoming a settled destination.

In my earlier years, a close and dear friend who has long been an encourager to me would often challenge me with these words, It is better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a mountain, than to aim for a telephone pole and hit the top of a fence post.” I understood him to mean that your goals should be worthy of your greatest commitment and effort, demand your constant focus, and be something greater than you can achieve alone. At the end of it all, it is not so much what your goals were that is important, but that, while you reached for them, you were empowered to achieve more than you otherwise would have. The sky really is the only limit!

Paul was neither impressed by his successes nor intimidated by his failures. He learned from his past, but refused to live in it. His goal was always before him. “The one thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” Philippians 3:13-14 TEV. That’s a good example for any of us.

My prayer for you today is this: dream big, always reaching for your full potential in God.

Devotionals

A Dynamic Balance.

February 26th, 2009

“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV

“Balance is having the right things in the proper measure, and complementary to everything else.”

My thoughts today are about  “a dynamic balance.”

Growing is normal and expected. Healthy growth is well-rounded, making your life and development properly balanced. Imbalance presents unnecessary challenges to your everyday life. Look again at today’s verse. Jesus’ balanced growth is a model for yours. Jesus matured intellectually, acquiring knowledge and understanding to equip Him to walk and work with wisdom. He developed physically, becoming stronger, healthier and fit to better accomplish His life’s work.

He grew spiritually, learning obedience and trust, understanding Kingdom priorities and eternal realities. He expanded socially and emotionally, able to relate to others, accepting and being accepted by them. Jesus was well-rounded – “whole” – living in perfect balance within Himself, with God, and with others. Grow as Jesus did; God brilliantly made you to live that way. Give attention not to neglect growing spiritually in your knowledge of the Bible and your relationship with God.

I remember being a straight A student as a young teen, but was physically small in height and weight for my age. My growth had not yet been proportional. I faced some social awkwardness due to that. As I continued to grow and develop physically, the process of balance became obvious. Or you have probably known a young teen that has had a growth spurt physically, but is yet lacking the emotional skills to match his or her appearance. People may expect more of them than they are capable of doing or being at that season of their development. Then fitting in and getting along is unnecessarily more difficult than it should have been.

Along the way, one needs to give conscious attention to establishing  a well developed balance in all areas of growth – intellectually, physically, socially, and very importantly, spiritually. You can see the sad evidence and added difficulty of developmental imbalance in people’s lives all the time. When you neglect any area of your growth, you diminish the effectiveness of all of them, in some measure. Avoid extremes. Seek a dynamic balance. Balance is not having everything equal; that is unrealistic. Life does not come that neatly packaged. As I understand it, balance is having the “right things in the proper measure and complementary to everything else.”

Honestly examine your inner and outer life occasionally. Adjust and give attention to what is lacking. Strengthen what is weak and adjust what is excessive. Balance is not static; you cannot just get it right one time, and keep it. Balance is dynamic, always needing attention and adjustment to maintain intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual equilibrium. For that you will need wisdom, God’s help, and the loving adjustment of trusting interaction with family and friends.

My prayer for you today is: attend to every area that you may grow into the fullness of Christ.

Devotionals

Authentic and Influential.

February 25th, 2009

“Don’t be so well-adjusted to your culture as to fit in without thinking.” Romans 12:2 Message

“Be proactive in daily situations and friendships in a purposeful and positive manner.”

My thoughts today are about “authentic and influential.”

Jesus described this being the “salt of the earth and the light of the world.” Both have a potential for influence and make a noticeable difference, but only when placed in a context for effecting change. Salt flavors, preserves, or purifies, and light brightens what should be seen and always reveals what darkness would hide. That is influence. Influence is your ability to daily impact the circle of relationships and responsibilities God gives you with positive affect for eternity.

You either are an influence in the world and friendships that daily surround you, or those are influencing you. You must be proactive in your daily situations and friendships in a purposeful and positive manner, or you will merely adjust to them by default by doing nothing to counteract that.

A good illustration is the difference between a thermometer that merely measures and reflects the surrounding climate, and a thermostat that has the power to affect, change, and regulate its climate. When you buy things others buy, say things others say, and value things others value without consideration of your own, which one are you being?

Jesus prayed for His disciples “not that they should be taken out of the world, but that they would be kept from the world.” John 17. In the world, but not of the world. I recall my Dad warning the people he pastored that it was possible to be “too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good, or too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” Both are without influence. Neither is wise.

I have been told that the word, “authentic,” comes from the Greek word “to author.” You are authentic and will have spiritual influence when you read God’s original script for your life and let your own story be His story, not just a copy someone else’s.

My prayer for you today is: be authentic, just the wonderful way God made you.

Devotionals

Help Wanted.

February 24th, 2009

“Their cry for help . . went up to God.” Exodus 2:23 NIV

“When your cry to others for help goes unheard, or worse yet, unanswered, what do you do?”

My thoughts today are about “help wanted.”

Eventually, you will need help. Nobody can do it all on their own, all the time. Everyone feels helpless sometime. When you do need help, where do you turn? Remember the newspaper’s Help Wanted ads or thumbtacked notices crammed on some community bulletin board? More currently, Craig’s List seems to be the place today for people’s electronic cries for help.

What about the times you need help but don’t know where to turn or who to tell, so your cry goes unheard? Or the times you ask for help, but your need goes unanswered? There is one place that is always open to you, and One who always cares and answers. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” Psalm 46:1-2 NIV. When no one else may hear the sighs and sounds of your pain and need, there is One that does. See Psalm 30:10

Today’s verse describes a difficult and desperate time in Israel’s history. When they sought help from their Egyptian oppressors, they cruelly decreased their supplies and increased their quotas. Finally, instead of looking for help from places it would not come, from people who did not care, “Their cry for help . . went up to God.” The Bible says, “The righteous call to the Lord, and He listens; He rescues them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17 TEV. See also Exodus 3:7-8 TEV.

When you invite God to get involved, things begin to change sooner rather than later, for the better not for worse. “Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There (you) will receive mercy and find grace to help just when (you) need it.” Hebrews 4:16 TEV/ See also Psalm 122:2 NIV. God answers because you ask, not because you deserve. It’s His grace to do so.

It does not have to be a skillfully worded appeal; often a cry for help is all you have time or strength to do! Here’s God’s answer when confusion makes you feel your cry is unintelligible – “The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray . . with groanings that cannot be expressed in words,” or when heart-weary distress seems to silence your cry? – “the Spirit pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8:26-27 NLT.

David’s confidence can also be yours. Whatever else your experience may be or has been with others, even the closest of earthly relationships, you can say with David, You have always been my help . . O God of my salvation! Even when my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:9-10.

My prayer for you today is: don’t hesitate to ask God or others for the help you need.

Devotionals

Life’s Rhythm

February 23rd, 2009

“On the seventh day He rested from all His work.” Genesis 2:2 NIV

“While rest is the answer for weariness, it should not be thought weakness, but wisdom.”

My thoughts today consider “life’s rhythm.”

It is amazing how many people feel tired all the time. Is all tiredness from physical weariness? A nap or a good night’s rest can often take care of that. Exhaustion is not always in direct proportion to exertion. Feelings of exhaustion can come from less obvious sources also. There is mental tiredness from too many things that demand your thought or attention, or emotional tiredness from too much anxiety and worry. Worse still is spiritual weariness from a restless soul.

Just as busyness is not always productive, idleness does not cure tiredness. People soon tire of doing nothing. You were not created to only work, nor to remain idle.

Life has a rhythm – work and rest, activity and inactivity, productivity and replenishment. At creation, God Himself modeled the helpful and healthful rhythm of work and rest. See Genesis 2:2-3 NIV. Those are not always equal parts, but they certainly are equally important parts. Discover that rhythm and you will have all the strength and energy that you need. Ignore that and life doesn’t work as well for you, no matter how much you want or need it to do so.

Can you identify yourself with what the disciples must have felt? “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.'” Mark 6:31 NIV. Even though they were involved in good things, that was not enough to make it good for them.

Life will only change for you when you finally tire of being tired; then you will be willing to make the necessary changes for that to be different. I knew a man who was always busy, always going, always doing – and what he was doing and where he was going was right and good. A friend warned him of the potential harm of “burning the candle at both ends.” Without any hesitation, he responded by noting that at least he would burn twice as bright, to which his friend warned, “But you will only burn half as long!” I guess that really is the question, do you wish to shine twice as bright for a little while, or live and be productive twice as long.

While rest is the answer for weariness, it should not be thought weakness, but wisdom. When you most feel like you cannot afford to take time off, it is exactly the time that you cannot afford not to. An undeniable fact of today’s high stress, success driven society is burnout. The price is inestimable that is exacted on marriages, personal relationships, quality of life, and spiritual fulfillment. Don’t become a statistic.

This is Jesus’ advice, and I think that you can trust the Creator to know what works best with His creation. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.'” Matt 11:28-30 NLT. When you are doing God’s work God’s way you will have God’s blessing.

My prayer today is that you keep pace with God, with neither hurry nor hesitation.

Devotionals