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Archive for June, 2009

God Has a Better Idea

June 30th, 2009

“That the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 NIV

“The least of God’s ideas will be bigger and better than even the best of mine – or yours!”

My thoughts today are this, “God has a better idea.”

Things are not always as they first seem. The reality of the moment may not remain the reality, as you knew it to be. Again today, my thoughts and comments are taken from the account of the death and miraculous resurrection of Lazarus. Martha and Mary had placed all their hopes on Jesus’ coming immediately, but Jesus waited four days before He came.

Be prepared for the fact that God’s plan always has an element of timing, and He alone determines when that will be. The matter is never only what God wants to do, but also how He intends to do that, and especially, when He chooses to accomplish that. See Psalm 31:15 NIV.

You may only see life in the present moment. For most of us, now is the operative word. Immediately is what you assume to be the opportune time for what your impatience wants God to do for you. But the right thing at a wrong time is no better than the right time but a wrong thing. God looks at life across the span of eternity – what was, is, and will be. Right now may not be the right time. God always has the better idea at exactly the right time. You can trust God with your life completely – every bit, piece, and minute.

This wasn’t about what the sisters assumed at all – the quicker the better. Martha and Mary’s idea for a successful outcome was Lazarus’ healing, but he died. God had a bigger and better idea! Lazarus would be more wonderfully and perfectly “healed” than they could even imagine. God wants your life to become a living testimony of His power and love for all to see. “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” See Ephesians 3:20 NIV. I have learned this across the years: the least of God’s ideas will be better than even the best of mine – or yours!

Lazarus’ unfortunate sickness and death had become (1) an occasion for the glory of God. “This sickness will not end in death; it is for the glory of God so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 NIV. You are not in such a hurry that you would rather preempt God’s glory being shown to others, would you? Live your life in such a way that lets others see who God is.

Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting his martyrdom as he wrote these words, “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20-21 NKJV. The timing of either, he left to God for His glory.

There is another important element with which God concerns Himself – that (2) your faith would be real, and strong. See John 11:15 NKJV. “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let patience grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.James 1:3-4 NLT. Ready for anything! Does that describe you spiritually?

My prayer for you today is: trust God’s timing for every moment and situation in your life.

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You Don’t Know It All

June 29th, 2009

“But even now I know.” John 11:22 NKJV

“You can’t know it all, but you can know the One who does.”

My thoughts today are about times “you don’t know it all.”

Have you ever met someone who thought themselves  a “know-it-all”? The bliss of youth is to think that because you are learning a lot, you know a lot – and some never overcome that youthful folly no matter how old they are. Life is a great teacher, and learning is life-long. Life has a way of challenging what you thought you knew and teaching you what you do not yet know, as well as confirming what you do. The more you will come to know the more you will realize how little you know, but how important that even that little bit is.

Just recently, I read that one week of the New York Times provides more information than a person living in the 1800’s would have had available to them in their lifetime. I am not sure of the basis for measuring that comparison, but that sounds plausible, doesn’t it? You live in an amazing generation for whom unlimited information is readily and literally available at your fingertips. Smart phones instantly connect you to the Internet, which connects you to the world and its entire store of information. A veritable ocean of information awaits your inquiry.

But here’s the problem. There is a substantial difference between information and knowledge. And there is a further difference between knowledge and understanding, and a still further and significant difference between understanding and wisdom. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6 NIV.

This is some information about which you must be clear. With all the information you may have and all the knowledge you may gain, you do not know anything of eternal value until you know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . . reverence for the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.” Psalm 111:10 NKJV/NLT. That’s where real wisdom starts – with your personal knowledge and relationship with God. You can’t know it all, but you can know the One who does.

“But even now I know.” The setting for today’s verse is the sickness and death of Lazarus, a friend of Jesus. Martha told Jesus of her brother’s sickness four days earlier, and asked Him to come. Finally, Jesus has come to Bethany where Lazarus has died and is now buried. Can you imagine the family’s grief and disappointment?

But listen carefully to Martha’s words. “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” John 11:21-22 NKJV. Even when she had many things she did not know, Martha was clear about what she did know. She did not know why her brother had died without Jesus’ intervention. She did not know why Jesus waited four days before coming. But she did know that if Jesus was there, there was always something that He could and would do.

Your relationship with God will not guarantee that you will know and understand everything at all times, nor that every question in life will be answered. But learn to know God and trust in what you know of His unchanging character, unfailing compassion, and unequaled almightiness. See 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 NLT.

My prayer for you today is to never forget what you know in your heart to be true.

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Danger, Handle with Care

June 26th, 2009

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Ephesians 4:26 NLT

“Anger, when counter balanced by virtues of God’s character, can remain righteous in its expression.”

My thoughts today are about “danger, handle with care.”

Anger is one of those emotions that should have a sign on it, “Danger. Handle with care!” Anger is best in the smallest of doses, and managed with the greatest of care and caution. It is an emotion that is not necessarily sinful, but even God places some wise restrictions on it. “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,” and then Scripture tells you why, “for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27. Anger unchecked ruins friendships, families, and lives.

It is not the emotion itself that is wrong, but the origin of anger at that moment and your manner of expressing it. Anger can be a doorway through which the worst of your flesh proudly storms through. Anger is unrighteous that is inconsistent with God’s nature and ways, does not serve God’s purpose for your life or others’, and yields control of your passion, words, and actions to something other than the Holy Spirit within you. All violence begins as anger.

God is described in the Bible as being angry. He was angry when Israel turned from God to idols. But know this about God: “His anger is but for a moment; His favor is for life.” Psalm 30:5. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” Psalm 103:8. “. . full of compassion, slow to anger.” Psalm 145:8. “. . slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” Joel 2:13.

When anger is counter balanced by such virtues of God’s character, it will remain righteous in its cause and expression. That’s anger you can trust. Righteous anger is the emotion that is in harmony with God’s emotion about something. There are many things that should make good people righteously angry. You should not be passive about wrongdoing when the powerful take advantage of the weak, when the rich abuse the poor, when the mean prey on the helpless. Those things make God righteously angry, and should arouse a passion for fairness and righteousness in you.

Sadly, most of the anger with which you contend is not about God or others, but is aroused when your will has been denied and your rights have been ignored. In that regard, this is God’s counsel: “My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.” James 1:19. That’s good and practical advice.

That works! I have found that when I take time to listen, really listen first, and I reserve my words longer than I would like, anger is more readily managed productively.

Solomon said, “It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32.  Nothing could be more true or practical than that. Remember the danger, and handle with care.

My prayer is that you will rule your spirit and handle your passions with care.

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Owners and Managers

June 25th, 2009

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Psalm 24:1 NIV

Life is at its best when you choose to live generously.”

My thoughts today are about “owners and managers.”

Sometime as I walk through the halls of our Preschools, I pause to watch young children at play. I find that observing them is most interesting. I have noticed that most small children can be divided into two groups: those who share and those who won’t. Some children are eager to play with others and have learned that sharing is required, and a few feel the need to control the activity and claim every available possession as “mine!”

That disposition seems to come too naturally for people of any age. The very word separates friends and destroys closeness. Life is at its best when you choose to live generously. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more. Another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24 NIV. People who hoard for themselves and withhold from others seldom see the connection with the worry, unhappiness, and loneliness they feel. How tragic, and needless.

Contentment is best found by realizing that everything that you have is a gift received. Ultimately, you will give an account for how well you manage the things given to you. See Luke 16:1-3. Owning more does not secure your peace and happiness. Owning actually creates some added measure of worry and anxiety. Jesus used parables, “teaching stories,” to underscore that the things you have and enjoy did not originate with you, nor ultimately belong to you. The earth really is the Lord’s, and “everything in it!” You and I are managers, not owners.

Your time is a gift extended to you, which God expects you to use for more than your own pursuit and pleasure. Your talents and abilities were provided to you by God’s hand and grace. Your possessions and resources are provision for your use and for your service to God and others, not yours to own and spend as you will. Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” Luke 12:48 NKJV.

True joy comes when you release your need to “own,” and embrace your privilege to manage on another’s behalf. Jesus taught, “If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will commit to you that which is your own?” Luke 16:12 NKJV. As a student entrusted with the opportunity of an excellent education . . as an employee given opportunity to serve others on their behalf . . and as a steward of God’s practical and daily grace, you are qualifying yourself to receive the greater blessings of God, and be shown the gratitude and good will of others.

Life works best when you truly understand that, “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1 NIV. Not just figuratively, but literally. The apostle Paul reminds every Christ-follower, “A person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is to hold things lightly, love others greatly, and serve God fully.

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Standards

June 24th, 2009

“One who abides by (the perfect Law) . . will be blessed in what he does.” James 1.25 NAS

“Moral compromise steals something of what God made you to be.”

My thoughts today are about “standards.”

The Federal Government formed the National Department of Standards and Measurements in the early 1800’s with the responsibility of setting the nation’s definitive standards for weights and measurements. Those standards would assure a constant and consistent means of measurement. If you want to know accurately what an ounce or gallon, or inch or yard, or pound or ton, or the weight of an ounce of gold, the Bureau of Standards and Measurements is where you can find a reliable and unchanging standard that applies to everyone equally.

In life, you need an established standard that will not fluctuate or be adjustable just because someone wants it to be. That’s why there are rules in sports, laws for driving, and ordinances that govern each community. Imagine trying to live without those.

The Bible offers you exactly that, an accurate and consistent standard for knowing who you are, what you are about, and how you are doing. When there is no single, predetermined standard then anyone’s standard is considered as good as anyone else’s, and that allows variance and confusion. After Joshua’s leadership of Israel, there was a chaotic time when “there was no king in Israel; everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6 NKJV. That’s not a good thing.

God loves you too much to leave matters of eternal importance to the unpredictable whims and varied preferences of individuals, even your own. “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2 NIV. The context of today’s verse is about the wisdom of your looking into the mirror of God’s Word to see clearly how your attitudes and actions accurately reflect the standards of God’ Word, “the perfect Law of liberty.”

Life, and your own humanity, will often tempt you to make yourself an exception, to justify doing what you want or what seems right or feels good to you at the time, but God’s way is always and only the right way! “But as for God, His way is perfect.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. A successful life requires an established standard that will not fluctuate nor be adjustable. When you compromise your standard, you lose some very important part of what God made you to be.

Here’s what God promises you will happen, “But we all, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV. You can be changed. You can meet the standard without falling short or failing to live up to its measurement. But you will not be changed unless you accept God’s standards and follow them diligently. He does not adjust them at your wish. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you . . .” John 15:7. That’s when God’s blessings are released upon your life . . and you “will be blessed in all you do.” James 1:25.

James wrote that you are to “look intently at the perfect Law and abide in it . . .” You are to be committed, not casual. You must do so consistently, not occasionally. You must dwell in its truth, not straying from its wisdom and command.

My prayer for you today is to accept only God’s righteousness, always. And be blessed!

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