Archive

Archive for September, 2015

History and Destiny

September 25th, 2015

“For by grace you have been saved through faith . . the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 NKJV.

Your identity is not found in the debris of your past failures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “history and destiny.”

Everyone has a history; everyone has a destiny. History is who you have been; destiny is who you are in Christ. History traces the path to where you are; destiny promises who you can become. “God Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Read Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV.

It seems we are more easily preoccupied with our own or others’ past record of struggles and failures than with the possibilities and opportunities still ahead. Possibilities for you are limitless in Christ. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. In redemption, God replaces your history with destiny.

In the beginning, it was wonderfully simple. God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV. Sin is common to us all, but sin cannot change your origin. You came from God’s heart and hands. But life – your faults and failures as well as the hurts and misunderstandings from the fallen humanity of others – clouded the image with which you were created and your understanding of the Father’s purpose for you. Subsequent inability to reconcile the way things are with the way things should have been produces inner tension and confusion.

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, but many people struggle with a confused identity. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:29-30 NIV. I recognize three challenges that confront your assurance of identity.

(1) The brokenness of our own self-knowledge. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV. History is rehearsed in your memory with excruciating detail. You have to discover anew your identity in Jesus before all the stuff happened that you allowed to shape who you now believe yourself to be. Your identity is not found in the debris of your failures or the failures of others toward you. Believe God and His Word.

(2) The ill-founded evaluation of others. Your sense of self is wrongly shaped by others’ opinions, criticisms, and judgments of you. Leave all judgment to Him who judges righteously. The judgments of anyone, including your own, mean little until the Righteous Judge, who knows even the thoughts and intent of the heart, examines one’s life. The Apostle Paul foresaw that day, “At that time, each will receive his praise from God.” Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV.

(3) The lengthy process of rebuilding broken lives. Never assume the difficulty, delay, or slow progress mean success is not yours. Recovery takes a lot of grace, patience, obedience, perseverance, hope, and faith. “Being confident of this . . that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV.

God rebuilds what self and sin have damaged or destroyed, through daily application of the Word of God, the work of Christ, the fellowship of His Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit to restore His “image and likeness” anew. God replaces your history with destiny. Your Identity in Christ is assured and secure. Read Colossians 1:21-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live confidently, eternally secure in Christ Jesus.

To be continued . . .

Last Sunday, I taught on “Identity Theft” at Freedom Fellowship, New Braunfels, TX. The teaching is also available at their website, freedomnb.org. Then scroll down to the sermon title to listen or download the teaching. Please respond if you listen so I will know if audio teachings would be helpful in the future on EveryDay Life . . .

EDL PIX Identity images

 

 

Christian Communications 654

 

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unfinished Business

September 22nd, 2015

“As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV.

Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unfinished business.”

There are probably things in your life left unfinished for various reasons, some unavoidably and some unwisely. There are things started but later found not to be all that important, or matters begun without enough commitment, time, or resource to sustain effort. At other times pressing priorities displace previous intentions. Some situations require others’ cooperation or willingness, which they may be unwilling to provide. Occasionally though, there are things that should not be left undone. Jesus chided the Pharisees because they were careful about things important to them but casual about things important to God. To those more religious than righteous, Jesus said, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23 NKJV. Do all that you can every time you can.

Important matters require closure. Jesus provides a great example. Imagine the joy in Jesus’ heart as he surveyed His life, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 NKJV. There is a satisfaction of soul that accompanies obedience. It is important to know, “the things (God) has given you to do,” and to do them. Even on the cross, in His pain and suffering Jesus looked to His Father and confidently declared, “It is finished.” John 19:30 NKJV. Unfinished business is neither wise nor profitable. We are all prone to ignore the awkward or avoid the unpleasant situations that would be difficult, painful, or personally costly. Doing so leaves a life more complicated than is healthy.

In light of the coming resurrection and judgment, Paul wrote, “I always strive to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men.” Acts 24:16 NKJV. Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past with either God or man. Leave no unfinished business with either. Jesus told a touching story about a loving father and his two very different sons. Read Luke 15:11-31 NKJV. After a lengthy time squandering his father’s generosity, the younger son realized vital relationships were improperly unfinished. “When he came to himself . . he said to himself . . I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, I have sinned.” There needed to be Godly repentance and restoration with the family – the younger son with both his father and brother, and the elder son with brother and father.  The Heavenly Father was reflected when forgiveness and restoration were offered freely to both.

This is the good news. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. Allow nothing to settle in your heart or life that needs Godly closure with God or man. Is there a family relationship, broken friendship, discarded promise, or neglected obedience awaiting your initiative? Paul gave good counsel, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV. But be advised; everything cannot be sorted out single-handedly, but the initiative is yours.

Today, I pray for you that your past will be clean and your conscience clear.

Christian Communications 103107

EDL PIX colorful puzzle

 

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Empty Lives

September 16th, 2015

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16 NKJV.

Life without Jesus will never be all that life should be.

My thoughts and comments today are about “empty lives.”

As a child, life is exciting, exhilarating, and filled with anticipation – Christmas as a child – first day of school – first date – finally, your driver’s license – falling in love – being married – starting your career – raising a family. Life too quickly fills with responsibilities and routines, each day wearing away a little of the mysteries and wonder. School becomes homework and hard work. Dating becomes complicated, even confusing. A driver’s license involves gasoline, and insurance, and repairs. Falling in love eventually brings rent or mortgage, and bills.

Too soon, spontaneity yields to a schedule that becomes repetitive, and you find yourself trudging through life feeling that emptiness – a sense of “same old, same old” – with something deep inside telling you that life is not meant to be that way. A better life is waiting for you. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16 NKJV. Jesus replaces empty lives with full hearts.

Life without Jesus as its center will never be all that you long for life to be. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can take His place or fill that void. You see, that emptiness you feel in your soul runs so deep. You cannot fill empty lives with stuff; you cannot silence it with noise; you cannot ignore it with busyness. “Man has a purpose – to be in relationship with God . . when he forgets his purpose he forgets who he is and what life means.” Francis Schaeffer, Theologian and Christian philosopher. Life does not work well when you forget who you are and what life means.

Life cannot be what it is meant to be if you leave God out. God alone makes sense of everything else about your life. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. God makes what you have enough. God makes relationships enriching. God makes who you are meaningful and satisfying. God makes what you do fulfilling. God fills your future with hope and unlimited possibilities. See Jeremiah 29:11 NLT.

The Bible narrative begins with these words, “In the beginning . . the earth was without form, and void, and darkness covered . . and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 NKJV. That is the way anyone’s life is until Jesus is invited to come in and set it right, and fill it with life and fullness, and give light and understanding. He is there, waiting for your invitation to do so today and every day that follows. “Until we all come to the knowledge of the Son of God . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV.

The Apostle Paul described where you find a full heart and full life, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you may know the love of Christ that passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV. Don’t try to live life – even a moment of it – without Jesus filling your heart.

Today, I pray for you to make room for Jesus in everything you are and all you do.

Christian Communications 11309

 Empty Lives

Empty Lives

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Time of Need

September 11th, 2015

“We may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NKJV.

When you invite God into your situation, help is on the way.

My thoughts and comments today describe “a time of need.”

As a child, I remember my maternal Grandmother often say, mostly to herself, “Heaven help us.” I think it was both a prayer and a plea, a lifestyle of confidence that help in big and small things would come from Heaven. Everybody needs help sometime, some more than others and some more often. When you do need help, to whom will you look? Your answer reveals where you place your trust. Usually you will look where you have found help in the past, or where you could best expect help now. ”Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NKJV.

Out of all the possibilities, there is only one source that is sure. It is from Whom your help comes that makes a difference, not from where. The Psalmist wrote, “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, earth, and mountains.” Psalm 121:1-2 MSG. “Let us be bold, then, and say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?“ Hebrews 13:6 TEV.

Moses uses picturesque, even poetic, language, “There is no one like our God. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you . . Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your protecting shield and your triumphant sword!” Deuteronomy 33:26-27/29 NLT. Moses envisions the mighty God leaving the bliss of Heaven to engage the conflict with one objective, to bring glorious victory to those He has redeemed.

“What if the Lord had not been on our side? Answer, O Israel! ‘If the Lord had not been on our side when our enemies attacked us, then they would have swallowed us alive in their furious anger against us; then the flood would have carried us away, the water would have covered us, the raging torrent would have drowned us. Let us thank the Lord, who has not let our enemies destroy us. We have escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap; the trap is broken, and we are free! Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’” Psalm 124:1-8 TEV.

Feeling besieged, threatened, trapped, overwhelmed, and drowning in your troubles? When all seems against you, God is for you. Read Isaiah 43:1-2 NKJV. No enemy can overcome you; no flood will overwhelm you. Today, God will help you – if you ask Him, placing your trust firmly upon Him. When you are unable to do much else, you can whisper, “Heaven help me.” He will come; you’ll see. Wait and watch for the Lord. Read Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to receive sufficient grace from the Lord in your time of need.

Christian Communications

EDL PIX walking on water 2

Devotionals , , ,

Holier Than Thou

September 9th, 2015

“As He who called you is holy, you also be holy.” 1 Peter 1:15 NKJV.

Holiness begins by being wholly His.

My thoughts and comments today are about “holier than thou.”

Admittedly, holy is a high standard to achieve. It seems that we either discount it as an impossibility for anyone, or despair of the spiritual attribute as personally unattainable. Being imperfect doesn’t help. We are incurably self-centered, often foolish, predictably impulsive, and naturally sinful. Of all the New Testament authors, Peter might be the last one I would have expected to write about being holy. As we would say in Texas, he was a bit “rough around the edges.” Peter meant well, but often was out of step with Jesus.

Peter should have re-read the words of Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Read Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV. God’s ways are holy. Years after Jesus’ resurrection, an older and wiser Peter wrote, “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16 NKJV. By both divine command and calling, as well as God’s example and enabling, you and I are called to be holy “in all our conduct.” Holiness commences, continues, and is only completed by being wholly His. The concept of holiness is related to the model of wholeness – all that Father God intends, all that Christ redeemed, and all the Holy Spirit produces in us. See Galatians 5:22-23 NIV.

Becoming holy is not something you can achieve by your own efforts; even your best efforts will fall short. “God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” 2 Tim 1:9 NIV. Holiness is more about righteousness than religiousness, more about internals than externals, about who you are in Christ more than what you try to be in your own strength. “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:23 NIV.

I am encouraged to realize that holy is not something I can do without the Holy Spirit, even though becoming holy will ultimately shape and impact everything I say and do. Holy is something you and I are to become as a product of all that Jesus Christ has done in grace through salvation. Our success is already assured by the One who calls us to be holy. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Read 1 John 3:1-3 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to surrender to your sovereign Lord all you are and desire to become.

EDL PIX holiness verse

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications

 

Devotionals