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Archive for September, 2017

Matters of the Heart

September 29th, 2017

A divided heart is a sure formula for spiritual failure.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for [your heart] is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Matters of the Heart.”

Often, we are people with divided hearts. Inconsistency and inner conflict are natural to us. That can be very confusing to ourselves, as well as others. Openly and honestly, Paul expressed the frustration of such spiritual inconsistency. “What I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Read Romans 7:14-25 NKJV. There is an unrelenting spiritual struggle for preeminence.

That struggle between the flesh and spirit is unavoidable for those who commit to follow Christ. Within you is a new nature that is fashioned after Christ and draws you toward the person that you really want to be, redeemed, delivered, and brand new in Jesus. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NIV.

Still your old nature longs to revert to its selfish, sinful ways in opposition to your new life in Christ – set in its ways, preferring its own will, and seeking its pleasure with regard to neither God nor His will. You know the drill. You face it every day in some measure. Sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant.

Your humanity would like to have it both ways, but that is not viable. Living right and doing the right thing most of the time, but occasionally doing as you wish when convenient and desirable to you is a proven path to a miserable life. My Dad once described a friend of mine as having, “Too much of God in Him to enjoy the world and too much of the world in him to enjoy living for God.” That can be truer of any of us than we wish it to be.

“God gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’ . . The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Acts 13:22 NKJV/1 Samuel 16:7 NIV. You must cry out to God as David did, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 NKJV. Spiritual ambivalence – being painfully drawn in incompatible directions – produces a divided heart.

A divided heart is a sure formula for spiritual failure. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Read Galatians 5:16-25 NIV. The faithful Holy Spirit will convict your heart of sin and stir your longing for God.

The victory in this spiritual dilemma is found by choosing clearly, firmly, and finally to only and always follow Jesus. Allow yourself no exemption, excuses, exceptions, or compromises. Even small compromises produce large complications. Jesus made both the problem and solution a matter of the heart,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that your heart belongs to Jesus fully and always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Devotionals

Submission or Subjection?

September 27th, 2017

Joy and satisfaction are found in submission to the ways and will of God.

 “Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil.” James 4:7 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today ask,

“Submission or Subjection?”

I may be corrected by an English teacher reading this, but I am intrigued today by two similar words that sometimes seem alike, but can infer a dissimilar process. Those words are: submission and subjection. I think a distinction between them is important for proper application – practically, relationally, and spiritually. The first of those words – submission – describes your voluntary willingness to comply with another’s request or requirement of you.

You submit when, by your free will, you forego your rights to do otherwise.  Submission suggests a voluntary willingness and readiness, choosing the better option for the right reasons. Your relationship with God is based on willing submission and joyful obedience. James advised, “Therefore, submit yourselves to God.” James 4:7 NKJV. By your choice of submission, you subject yourself to obedience as unto the Lord.

The second word – subjection – includes the idea of coercion and subjugation. “Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.” Psalm 106:42 NKJV. Coercion occurs when someone attempts to impose their will on another person. Anyone who demands compliance at the threat of their disfavor or unwanted consequences is trying to force you to do their wish and will. In both submission and subjection, the end results are similar but the motivation and strategy differ vastly.

Submission is your voluntary response to what is asked of you and is beneficial and appropriate for you to do. God patiently awaits your submission. In contrast, subjection relies upon coercion, demanding by threat of disfavor or punishment to gain compliance you would not otherwise give. Our better nature responds more positively to a request or rightful expectation. Our baser nature – and we all have one – is oppositional, expressing reluctance, resistance, or outright refusal to demands contrary to our own will or perceived pleasure.

Submission is a choice that only you can make. Joy and satisfaction are found in submission to the ways and will of God alone. Conversely, subjection is imposed from outside by others. Only frustration and displeasure will be found there. Others will try to overlay their expectations, plans, and will upon your life. Trust the sacred environs of your heart and life to none but God. Our God never imposes His will on your life, nor should you allow others to impose theirs. He offers His ways and will for your good.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV. Subjection burdens you with concerns you did not choose. Submission to God frees you to elevate your life to all that is higher and better. The choice is yours!

Today, I pray for you to know joys of submission to God and His ways.

Christian Communications 2017

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A Personal Note and Inspirational Thought

September 26th, 2017

I was traveling and unable to write and send EDL on the regular schedule. I am back in my office and will be resuming more regular communication with you, probably tomorrow or later today. Below, I have shared some brief thoughts from this morning as I reflected on the new day – the day of His making and overflowing with His abounding grace and goodness. Blessings!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.'”  Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV.

A new day dawns and your God offers you a new beginning, an amazing grace, a true forgiveness, a fresh hope, a strong faith, uplifting encouragement, a real joy, and more than adequate strength to successfully meet whatever challenge the day requires.
“As your day, so shall your strength be.”  Deuteronomy 33:25

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10 NKJV.

Receive God’s gifts today with thanksgiving and gratitude. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 NKJV.

 

Devotionals

Direction, Distractions, and Diversions

September 8th, 2017

Distractions create diversions to a course not envisioned.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 KJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Direction, Distractions, and Diversions.”

Life needs direction – a worthy goal to reach and a path to reach that goal. For that direction, you need God. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT. And life can be full of distractions. Even God cannot direct your path if you allow yourself to become distracted.

A firm and clear direction minimizes distractions. David’s direction was unequivocal, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV. That is a Holy direction that can last a lifetime, and reaches into eternity. Most of the time distractions are usually of little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention was one of personal urgency and importance? Distractions, even those that are small and brief, lead to diversions that can set your life on an unintended path. Distractions create diversions toward a course not envisioned.

The sincerest decision and most vital direction can be supplanted by even a minor distraction. Because there is so much that you should do, and so much that you could do, there will always be moments that misdirect you along another path, away from the task at hand. Diversions are inevitable. Be prepared for them. Something more attracting and enticing will beckon your attention. All too easily, the best of  intentions can be displaced.

Later in life, individuals find themselves in a far different place than they planned. Where did they take a wrong turn? What decision changed their destination? Or maybe it was a curiosity that became a fascination indulging experimentation, which slowly became a habit and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. Paul was wise when he wrote, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV. Permissible does not mean advisable.

There is no diversion that is more important than your decision to pursue God earnestly. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do,” then consolidated three necessities of that singular passion. “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. Similarly, the Bible offers multiple, practical characteristics for your single-minded pursuit of God.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2 NKJVHeaven is real and eternity is sure.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3 NKJV.  Hold fast to the faith that in difficult times will hold you fast.

Be earnest about prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.James 5:17 NKJV. Effective fervent prayer has the power to change anything.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way, [the way of love].” 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV.

The world, with its deceitful pleasures, is full of distractions. If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see Jesus’ life and love in you. May this worthy goal be yours and mine. “We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and Godly sincerity.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be earnest about all aspects of spiritual life.

Christian Communications 2017

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Passions and Priorities

September 6th, 2017

  Your passion determines your priorities.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV  

My comments today are about, “Passions and Priorities.”

God is not elusive nor the path to God concealed. But the spiritual opposition to your seeking God is intense, both externally and internally. An evil trinity of spiritual forces oppose you. The world around you, your flesh within you, and the devil against you all conspire to turn your heart to other pursuits more immediately pleasing.

God described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 13:22 NKJV. What a wonderful way that God described David. Your passion determines your priority. Your priority reveals your passion. David’s passion for God fueled his priority to know and please God. “You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV. Any serious pursuit of God must be done with earnestness and priority.

Jesus was clear and specific, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. How would others describe your appetite and thirst for God today? Earnestly and diligently are apt descriptions of how you should be seeking God’s highest and best for your life.

David described his passion for God as he wrote, ”My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:8 KJV. Seeking God is not for the easily distracted or readily discouraged, and never for the merely casual or curious. Such is the path reserved for those for whom life without God is not enough.

You will earnestly seek for what you believe is of incomparable value and for which you will accept no substitute. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask [according to His will] – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV.

Jesus presented a Biblical progression for those determined to seek God with whole hearted devotion and single-minded purpose. Read Luke 11:9-10 NIV. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Asking is elementary. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 NIV. Asking reflects your priority of God’s will and your patience with God’s timing.

Jesus also said, “Seek, and you will find.” Seeking involves attitude as much as activity, a time while the Spirit refines the sincerity of your heart. “[God] rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. As my Dad often reminded me, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.”

Jesus concluded by saying, “Knock, and the door will be opened unto you.” Knocking indicates your anticipation more than insistence. Jesus concluded with this promise, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to cultivate a heart that seeks after God always.

Christian Communications 2017

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