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Archive for January, 2010

Loves Me, Loves Me Not

January 29th, 2010

“We have . . believed the love that God has for us.” 1 John 4:16 NKJV

“The right kind of love could change your life forever. God knows just how to do that.”

My thoughts today are about “loves me, loves me not.”

You know the familiar picture of a quizzical young lady holding a daisy, and as she pulls a petal off she says, “loves me,” then pulls another and says, “loves me not” until the last petal drops to the ground. It suggests a random number of petals can reveal whether one is loved or not. It might seem good sometimes if that worked.

Love can feel that uncertain for some, and that does not feel good at all. I guess the kind of love some people have experienced in their lives leaves them confused and doubting. Such experiences leave them unsure of love, or maybe uncertain of love altogether.

If you assume God’s love is like the inadequate earthly love you have experienced, then you will be as unsure about His, as you might be of others. You cannot measure God – no facet of His character or conduct – by putting Him alongside people you know. It seems that some often credit God with only being much like His sin-afflicted creation, but He is completely unlike us, even at our best. He is holy and righteous and just.

An imperfect person’s love is not the standard by which God’s love can be compared or measured. God is the standard by which each person is measured; His love is the standard by which all others’ love falls short.

Here is God’s highest desire for you, “May you have the power to understand how wide, how long, and how deep His love really is. And may you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Read Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT. Notice my emphasis. When you understand AND experience God’s love, it will color your whole experience in the most practical ways, “with the fullness of life and power!”

Isn’t that the kind of love you have been looking for? You don’t need flower petals to settle any guessing game about God’s love. You need to believe God’s Word, and to “believe the love He has for you!” 1 John 4:16 NKJV. The right kind of love can change your life forever. And God knows just how to do that.

So what is God’s love like? The Bible describes His love this way, “patient and kind . . not jealous or boastful or proud . . does not demand its own way, is not irritable . . keeps no record of when it has been wronged . . never glad about injustice . . love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. (God’s) love will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT.

Read those characteristics again, slowly. Recognize all of those attributes of love in yourself or any person you know? Then understand that could be talking about God’s love alone – the love He has for you..

My prayer for you today is that you will be fully persuaded of the love God has for you.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

January 28th, 2010

“It is God that makes us able to do all we do.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 New Century

“Success is unjustified pride until you honor God for it and serve Him with its rewards.”

My thoughts today are about “credit where credit is due.”

I have found that a person is more likely to claim “I did it!” when there is a success, than when there is a mess. It seems everyone is ready to take the credit for anything that turns out well. Maybe too ready. Is that the reason people can be a little too slow to share the credit with others who contributed significantly to their effort and its result? There is a familiar expression that is good to keep in mind, “Credit to whom credit is due.”

Someone cleverly observed that if you ever see a turtle on top of a fence pole, you can rest assured he didn’t get there all by himself. When you are eager to gratefully recognize the invaluable help you have been given to get where you are today, you are ready for even greater success. How does that relate to everyday life? Let me aask you this: have you given God His rightful place in you life – the place He deserves?

Here’s the real truth. Anything good that comes your way has come with God’s fingerprints all over it, whether you noticed that or not. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Your success is only unjustified pride until you honor God for your accomplishments and serve Him with its rewards. There should be a sense of Godly fear to presume the credit that God alone deserves for the good that you enjoy. “Our only power and success come from God!” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT. Can this principle be any clearer? When you truly give God all the glory, your lifestyle will sincerely reflect humility and profound gratitude and generosity.

The Bible says, “Give to everyone what you owe . . if respect then (give) respect, if honor then (give) honor.” Romans 13:7 NIV. Surely, if that is the common courtesy that you owe others, you and I must owe such clear testimony of God for His manifold blessings and grace. Paul had it right when he wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you never fail to honor God with what He gives you.

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You’ve Got to Have Heart

January 27th, 2010

“Look . . into my heart.” Psalm 139:23 Contemporary English Version

“Ask God to look into your heart and let you see what He sees.”

My thoughts today are that you’ve got to have heart.”

You have probably noticed that some people are not what they first appear to be. They are careful about cosmetics – what makes them look good in everyone’s eyes except God’s but careless about character – what they are before God. Which would you think is more important? What does God look for? “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at . . the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.

It can be tempting to just be an actor on a stage playing a role – trying to be what you think someone else wants you to be, or trying to impress people to believe what you wish they were. It’s time to get real! It is tragic to play a role so long that you begin to forget how to be who you are. The Bible describes the foolishness of looking into a mirror but remaining unchanged by what you see, “. . you see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” James 1:23-25 NLT.

If you are not being real, you don’t fool God, and rarely will you fool others very well or very long. It is just simpler to be real than to continually pretend to be someone that you are not. Jeremiah, a prophet, pronounced this about the heart of man, “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT. There really is only one way to successfully be real. Ask God to look into your heart and let you see what He sees.

When David finally saw his heart the way God saw it – as it really was – he was stunned and pleaded with God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” Read Psalm 51:6-12 NLT. Every change that will endure first begins inside, not outside.

Jesus challenged those religious but self-righteous men who were so careful about the smallest of external things but casual about internal matters that are of the utmost importance, “You clean the outside of the cup but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and then the outside also will be clean . . what comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. For from within, out of men’s hearts come evil . . these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” Matthew 23:25-26 NIV/Mark 7:20-23 NIV.

A friend recently had a heart procedure that enabled the doctor to see into her heart where several dangerous blockages were found. Those things previously unseen in the heart were a serious health risk. Do you know what’s in your heart? God does. Here’s the psalmist’s answer to his dilemma: “Look into my heart . . test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 CEV/NLT. That is your answer also; it is the only answer.

My prayer for you today is: trust your heart in God’s hands.

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Simple Devotion to Christ

January 26th, 2010

“The Lord . . is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14 NKJV

“God’s jealousy is not a fear of His loss, but of yours!”

My thoughts today are about “simple devotion to Christ.”

I don’t particularly like the idea of jealousy. So when God is described as jealous, I am at first a bit uncomfortable. What comes to your mind when you think of jealousy? Not pretty, is it? Often that kind of jealousy is accompanied by insecurity, suspicion, distrust, possessiveness, control, accusations, disappointment, hurt, anger, and ultimately alienation. Those things are relationship killers, not builders in friendships and marriages.

You and I have mostly seen the human style of jealousy – flawed love gone awry. I would observe that the everyday variety of jealousy is more about the insecurity of the person who is jealous than the person about whom they are jealous. What you have often seen is probably a distortion of a truly jealous heart.

The jealousy described as God’s emotion is the truest of loves that passionately desires only the highest and best for the one beloved, whatever His personal sacrifice that requires. For your sake, God is protective of your relationship with Him. He knows well the serious, eternal implications of anything – small or large – that you would allow to separate you from His love in the least of ways. God’s jealousy is protective of you, with regard only for your safety and well-being.

When you look to anything or anyone else for the things that God alone can provide you – security, purpose, worth, contentment, devotion – you give a person or thing a place that belongs only to God. God is jealous at such times. He is not jealous of that person or thing, nor threatened by them; He is jealous for you. Any relationship that you allow to fill His place – any possession that you prize above Him – any activity that becomes more important than obedience – any companionship that you desire more than His becomes an idol that will compromise your wholeheartedness of relationship with God. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols . . keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your heart.” 1 John 5:21 NIV/NLT. That is good advice for the soul.

Whatever fills your heart and life to the diminishing of your heart for God lessens your experience of the best that He purposes for you. Paul expressed God’s jealousy this way, “I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God Himself. “For I promised you as a pure bride to one husband, Christ. I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 NLT.

I find it interesting that the Bible compares the spiritual danger you face everyday with the original sin in the Garden. No one of us is immune from the subtle temptations that could lure you from a “pure and simple devotion to Christ.” God’s jealousy is not a fear of His loss, but of yours! God places His seal upon your life – “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are His own.’” 2 Timothy 2:19 NIV – a seal not to be broken.

My prayer for you today is to rest secure in His unfailing love, completely content there.

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Fully Alive

January 25th, 2010

“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV

“It is arrogance to assume that your life is yours to do with as you want.”

My thoughts today are about being “fully alive.”

It is easy to assume a mistaken idea of what it means to be fully alive. Some think that means to live as you want with no restraints, free to do what you want when you want and to whomever you want. At the root of such an idea is wrongly thinking that your life is yours to do with as you want. Is that ever really true?

Here’s what the Bible plainly says as Paul writes to Christ-followers who were living carelessly and independently, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT. Consider this, “Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that . . you were redeemed from the empty way of life . . with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish.” 1 Peter 1:17-19 NIV. What a price God paid for you! If you rightly belong to another, there is a debt of love, obedience, and service you owe.

There is a measure of that principle to be seen in ordinary employment. You can’t accept another man’s wages and then work as you please, and if you please. Even more so, this principle is very true in marriage. You voluntarily embrace sacred vows that come with restraints and accountability to live for another’s best. You know what happens to the success of either of those if you reserve to yourself the right to live as you please. Human nature accepts, even expects, privilege while demanding every option and ignoring any personal obligation. Life will not work that way for you.

The best life is found in doing what you should, not as you would – joyfully doing what God wants rather than what you or others want. Your life came from God and daily comes from God. Do you not then owe Him everything? Read Romans 11:33-36 NLT.

As a teen, I learned a simple chorus: “Without Him, I could do nothing; without Him, I’d surely fail; without Him, I would be drifting, like a ship without a sail.” I have found those words to still be true. Faith is not an attachment to your life; it is the heart and core. From that, every other thing revolves.

Trying to live by your clever wits, depending upon your own strength, obeying any impulse, and pleasing yourself first and foremost just does not work out in the long haul. Life can be tough when you try to live it on your own terms. There is a sweet surrender when you come to the end of yourself, and there find that God is your sufficiency. Read John 6:66-69 NIV.

Have you heard a person say someone “doesn’t have a life?” The Bible describes such a person, “who lives for pleasure (and) is dead, even while he lives.” 1 Timothy 5:6 NIV. Isn’t that a sad description? But that’s true of some, who are simply unwilling to allow Christ to live in and through them. Here’s the rest of Paul’s words, “I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:19-20 NLT. That’s the only way to be fully alive, as you were intended!

My prayer for you is: that you know what life really is and where that alone can be found.

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