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Archive for November, 2012

Essential Faith

November 30th, 2012

Essential Faith

Faith is a well-founded conviction that as God promises so it will be.

“Faith comes from hearing the message . . through the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 NIV.

There is confusion about faith – what it is, where it comes from, what it looks like, how it feels, or how it grows. In everyday life, faith is essential, not optional. You evidence some measure of natural faith in the most common of routines. You mail a letter with faith the Postal Service will properly deliver it as addressed. You deposit your paycheck with faith the bank will insure its security and availability for your use. You place faith in people you with whom you have no personal knowledge or history.

Uncertainty arises when the discussion shifts from ordinary, natural circumstances to the exercise of faith in matters of spiritual life. Faith is a well-founded conviction that as God promises so it will be. Faith’s conviction rests solidly upon the ability and integrity of the One who promises. The Bible describes Abraham as, “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:21 NIV. Reading Abraham’s journey of faith you understand those words describe the outcome of his journey, not every moment of its duration. He became “fully persuaded,” as he chose again and again to believe God instead of feelings, facts, and fears. You can do the same with the same results.

God is the origin of faith that resides within each person, “As God has given to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NKJV. You came into this world with that measure of faith in your spirit. Along the way, you learned to doubt and faith remained dormant, there but ignored and inactive, until, “By grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God . .” Ephesians 2:8 NIV. Faith is the residing response in one’s heart to the eternal truth found in God. In your moment of decision, faith that was dormant becomes active. You don’t produce it; God gave it; you have it; exercise it sincerely; strengthen it continually. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV. Faith does not first see, then believe; faith believes, then expects to see.

Faith accounts any apparent impossibility as opportunity for God to be God. Paul writes of Abraham’s faith, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as had been said to him . .  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:18-21 NIV.

Faith grows from consistent time and attention given to His Word. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 NIV. When you fail to love God’s Word, you stifle faith. See Hebrews 4:2-3 NKJV. Read the Word; study the Word; meditate on the Word; believe the Word; speak the Word; live by the Word. Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV. You won’t become stronger in faith until faith becomes strong in you. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that God’s Word will be strong in you.

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A testimony

November 28th, 2012
Just minutes after publishing this morning’s EveryDay Life, “Simple Faith,” I received this response. I am sure there are many of you who have similar testimonies of how faithfully God works in everyday life . . Allen Randolph
“Thank you for your message of faith.
Since my husband was in the hospital, he lost two weeks of pay and we did not know how we would feed the kids, pay bills etc. He just said, “God will provide; we have to have faith.” I was struggling to see how we were going to do everything and was very worried.
Yesterday we got a call from a bank that someone had left something for our family and we needed to pick it up. It was $1,500. That paid our mortgage payment. I fell to my knees! God is so good; you have to have faith, and not let the devil tell you otherwise.”

Devotionals

Simple Faith

November 28th, 2012

Simple Faith

Faith is not an option but it is a daily choice.

“Now faith . . is the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 NKJV.

Life cannot be successfully navigated without simple faith, but that is not as simple as you might first expect. Life can become complicated. Faith is not an option but it is a daily choice. Everyday you are faced with diverse matters in which faith is required. Life would be very lonely without choosing to have faith in people. Yet you will struggle because faith in people can be sadly disappointed on occasion.

There is a common level of faith that is natural. You were created to have faith; God made you that way. A child trusts their parent; a spouse trusts their mate; people believe what they’re told, until there are enough times when faith seems disappointed. The desire to believe and dream is innate until life is allowed to strip it away a little at a time. God alone is capable of never disappointing, and circumstances will test even that bedrock truth at times. That’s when you choose faith.

The Bible says, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen . . by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. But without faith it is impossible to please God for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:1-2/6 NKJV. Read those truths again, slowly. Faith is that simple, until you cloud it with needless doubt or complicate it by dubious reasoning. Faith rests upon proven confidence that God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. Read Romans 3:3-4 NIV. Such confidence is experienced only by the one who chooses “faith . . believes that God is and is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Faith in God, His Word and character, does not fail; people fail to have faith. Faith is always from your heart, only rarely from the mind. See Romans 10:8-11 NKJV.

When told by other disciples that they had seen Jesus after His Resurrection, Thomas, a disciple of Jesus,  espoused the tired, old idea that “seeing is believing.” His conclusion? “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails were . . I will not believe it.” John 20:25 NIV. That is not a satisfying way to live. Imagine how much of life you miss. Thomas was wrong; “Believing is seeing.” See 1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV. You have two clear choices. Choose faith, believing and expecting God to be God. Or choose faith of a different persuasion which believes only what you can see for yourself. The latter will not work out well for you.

Let me remind you again, faith is not an option but it is a daily choice. “Therefore we do not lose heart . . while we do not look at the things which are seen, but [we look] at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV. There is more for your life than first appears. “Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that your faith releases glorious and inexpressible joy.

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Economic Uncertainty

November 26th, 2012

Economic Uncertainty

Government is not the solution to economic uncertainty; God is.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NAS

Economic uncertainty seems the rule and not the exception presently. Each day’s news is filled with more bad news than good as it pertains to finances, whether on the global, national, local, or personal levels. Everyone suggests a different solution; no one solution seems effective. While political parties exonerate themselves while caustically blaming one another, the economic problems stubbornly grow more ugly and personal, and individual families suffer the consequence. Unemployment is not a percentage; it’s people. Our nation, like many other nations, faces economic challenges bigger than borrowing and spending can solve. See Proverbs 22:7 NIV. Nationally, this is not the first time, maybe not even the worst. Ask your grandparents or great grandparents.

Individually is a good place to begin, rather than nationally or internationally. I would first suggest that government is not the problem; you and I are – our incessant wants, insatiable appetites for more, sense of entitlement, and unrealistic expectation all that will be at another’s expense. The origin of the current economic uncertainty is first moral and spiritual, only then financial. As citizens, we have allowed the government to tax unfairly, spend unwisely, borrow indiscriminately, and grant government favors at public expense. But we are the government, by means of duly elected and appointed leaders. In the closing words of his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln vowed, “. . that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” 1863. Of, by, and for the people remains the guiding principle upon which any government governs.

Likewise, the government is not the solution; God is. The problem of resolving personal economic uncertainty begins with each individual. The Bible’s counsel is this: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NASV.

No one in today’s increasingly secular, materialistic society can avoid financial anxiety or be naturally content. Incessant advertising and irresistible marketing subtly erodes contentment. There is good news. Like Paul, you can say, “. . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:11-12 NASV.

My Dad taught me simple, practical principles of money management, “Work hard. Remember, God is your Source. Tithe first. Never spend all you earn. Save some. Spend wisely.” That’s Biblical economics, wise stewardship, and sound money management. Hebrews 13:5 NIV/2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NKJV. And tithing, giving, and generosity are what God honors and rewards. See Malachi 3:10-12 NIV/Luke 6:38/Acts 20:33-35 NIV. Be certain of this truth, “My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you know the provision and blessing of God on all.

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Home and Harvest

November 21st, 2012

A Blessed and Joyful Thanksgiving Season to our friends and readers of EveryDay Life! As you gather with family and friends, may you thankfully remember the faithfulness of God and enjoy ample provision from His hand. Gayle and I are thankful for you and your fellowship with us in this written ministry expression of Christian Communications, Inc. We are appreciative and encouraged by your kind responses and privileged to share the  practical wisdom and wonder of God’s Word with you and the friends with whom you choose to share EveryDay Life.

For our friends in the San Antonio area

I have been invited to speak this Sunday, November 25,  at 9:00 am and 10:30 am at Trinity Church, 5415 N Loop 1604 E (at the Judson exit on NE Loop 1604). It would be our privilege to share the morning’s ministry with you.

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Home and Harvest

Home and harvest are a good place and a great time.

“Eye has not seen . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV

Circumstances distracted and misdirected Naomi. Read Ruth 1-4. The book of Ruth is just four brief chapters, but a most amazing story of God’s providence. Naomi, her husband and two sons, experienced a famine in Bethlehem, so they moved to Moab to put the tough times behind. It is usually wrong to assume another place will be better when things are not good where you are. Things weren’t better; they became worse. In tough times, look for lessons not exits.

You can grow more in adversity than in prosperity, but you must keep your problems in perspective and your confidence in God. When I was a young teen, I recall my Father observing, “More people can stand adversity than can handle prosperity.” I have witnessed that truth in many lives.

Uzziah reigned as a king until it was said of him, “He was marvelously helped until he was strong. When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction for he transgressed against the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 29:15-16 NKJV. Prosperous times have their hazards as can adverse times. Prosperous times might promote a faulty assumption that you need God less, when you may need Him even more. Adverse times can suggest that you can care for yourself better than God has.

Naomi and her family left Bethlehem thinking Moab was their solution, but their problems grew worse there. In Moab, Naomi’s sons married, but later died, as had her husband. When you lose what you love, a famine is a small thing in comparison. She was left in a foreign land with only her Moabite daughters-in-law, but determined to return home to Bethlehem. See the gracious, providential hand of God in her return, “[Naomi] heard in Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread . . now they came to Bethlehem [the House of Bread] at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:6/22 NKJV. What great news to hear and good time to return home. In God’s timing, home and harvest are a good place and a great time.

Naomi inaccurately described her plight, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV. Her excursion to Moab left her empty; the Lord brought her home in time for harvest, beyond anything she dared imagine. Her pain and loss made her fail to see, “’The Lord has brought me back’ . . at the beginning of the barley harvest!” Your Father will bring you home to blessing, if you let Him. Read Ruth 4:13-17 NKJV. Naomi’s grandson would become the grandfather of David, and the lineage of the Messiah promised to Israel! See Matthew 1.

Like Naomi, you may not yet know what God has prepared for you but this is true, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT. God’s timely harvest will wipe away your loss from the famine. She left in a famine; God brought her home at a time of harvest.

The Bible says you can, “[learn] to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13/19 NKJV. Contentment is a lesson life teaches learners. Happiness doesn’t come from having all you want; happiness is found in thankfulness for what you have. In tough times, you learn that faith, family, and relationships matter more at all times.

At this Thanksgiving season, be joyful and thankful for a bountiful harvest, whether at hand or still ahead. Now is a good time to enjoy home and harvest when you, “enter His gates with Thanksgiving.” Read Psalm 100:1-5 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you find God’s place of fullness and stay there in His will.

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