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Archive for February, 2018

The Priority of Friends

February 28th, 2018

Be the friend you hope to have.

“We rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God –
all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us
in making us friends of God.” Romans 5:11 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, the priority of friends.”

Priorities are essential not optional. I recognize three Biblical and irreplaceable priorities in my life. In this order, those priorities are: my faith, my family, and my friends. All are significant, but their order is important. Priorities clarify and simplify daily life. When you are right with God, you have the guidance of His Word and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to arrange all other relationships in their proper order.

When that personal, spiritual connection is lacking, other relationships can never reach their potential. Here is the basic, yet grand, truth. The Father is the One who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 NLT. Be aware of this fact, “If your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.” James 4:4 NLT.

This is true as well. Your family is a Godly assignment with eternal accountability. Family can either be your fulfilling joy or will become one’s greatest sorrow and regret. The Bible has much wisdom and guidance for the relationships of husbands and wives, as well as parents and children. Read Colossians 3:18-21 NIV/Ephesians 5:22-31 NIV. As your fellowship with God is the resource for your family relationships, those relationships have much to do with the potential quality of your personal friendships.

Now, let’s consider the priority of friends and friendships. God established the truth that, “two are better than one.” Solomon advised that righteous friendships make you stronger, more secure, satisfied, and successful. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV. I have found friends and friendships to be foundationally vital to health and happiness. Friends also are essential not optional. Life is much less without the company and fellowship of true friends.

God’s Word provides a lot of wisdom about friends and friendships. The Bible presents many exemplary friendships – Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Daniel with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Paul and Barnabas, Peter, James, and John, as well as Jesus and the Disciples. Jesus elevated friendship when He said to His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NIV.

Friendships are based on a simple, Biblical principle. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV. Be the friend you hope to have. Your friends will reflect you or, for better or worse, you will reflect the character of your friends. The quality of friendships entrusted to you reflect the friend you have chosen to be to others. I am extremely grateful for the many friends who have generously included me in their lives.

When I learned the power of this principle, I told a life-long friend, “Thank you for not allowing me to become what I would have been without you in my life.” There are many people to whom I could say the same. Without the principal and priorities of faith, family and friends, I could not become the disciple, husband and father, and friend I want to be. I am far better than I would have been without them. I hope my God, my family, and my friends would feel the same about our relationship.

This is the Biblical origin and foundation for all of this. “For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.” Romans 5:10-11 NLT. The spiritual health of your family and the authenticity of your Godly friendships rest upon and flow from the depth and steadfastness of your, “wonderful new relationship with God.”

Today, I pray for you to enjoy life-affirming friendships born of the friend you choose to be.

Christian Communications 2018-817

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Culture Wars

February 19th, 2018

Cues from a wrong source are misleading.

“You ought to live holy and Godly lives, as you look forward

to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Culture Wars.”

There are things about the current, secular culture that disturb me. I am disturbed that we too often take our cues from unworthy and inappropriate sources, with neither discernment nor discrimination. Much of the surrounding culture has a far greater influence on the Church and its people than could ever be justified – whether speaking of morals, materialism, or immodesty as expressed in fashion, media, music, profanity, incivility, or self-centeredness. We seem to take our cues from those wrong sources without discernment that we are doing so. Apparently, we are afraid to look different as we mimic the surrounding styles of how we dress, how we talk, and to a greater degree, how we live.

The Bible provides clarity. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV. When I was a young teen, the Church seemed to take a reactionary stance to the culture that appeared imbalanced and in clear opposition. Conversely today, we are too concerned about fitting in with the culture and too comfortable when we do.

Then, Christians seemed to consciously try to look, act, and talk differently. It might be wiser to just confidently and comfortably choose to be who we are always called to be, “Salt and Light,” in a deteriorating and darkening world. In retrospect, However, I believe my grandparents’ and parents’ generations chose a safer margin for error with less consequences than may result from our indecisive course today.

The Bible’s counsel is wise, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NIV. Be advised and wise and live successfully and effectively now and eternally safe forever.

Today, we seem to feel the need to apologize that our standards and expectations are other than the surrounding cultural norms. Because we are unclear about how to be Godly people in an ungodly age, a generation of young “teens and twenties” are confused, and thereby easily succumb to the bombardment of media, movies, music, fashion, and celebrities’ lifestyles to determine how they should dress, talk, think, and live.

The nature of the culture is not what disturbs me most. That is neither surprising nor redeemable except on an individual basis, never collectively. I am concerned about the secular culture’s influence and our naive approach to the lure of their example. Why mimic the opinions and lifestyle of celebrities because they have wealth or fame, lavishly granted from those whom they merely amuse and entertain? Except for few exceptions, they are in graphic contrast and conflict with what the follower of Jesus is meant to be, never examples to be esteemed and followed.

The Apostle Peter asked and answered a reasonable, but probing, question to the young churches and new Christians. “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV. You must ask and answer that question for yourself, “What kind of person ought I to be?” Life is best lived with a singular focus. As a follower of Jesus, I would suggest Paul’s words to you, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Choose carefully the people you admire and emulate, or you will find yourself in a gradual decline and indiscernible process of becoming like them. There is a clear and right choice to make. “Christ, is your example. Follow in His steps: He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when He suffered He did not threaten to get even; He left his case in the hands of God Who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 TLB. Yours and my goal should be to allow the Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit to make us a little more like Jesus every day.

Today, I pray for you to be a Godly example of a chaste and consecrated life of faith.

Christian Communications 2018

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The Law of Return

February 13th, 2018

Life is reciprocal.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

 My thoughts and comments today are about, “the law of return.”

Life is not random, even though it occasionally appears to be. Life is reciprocal. It is important that you understand, “The Law of Return.” The principle is rather simple, but applies either positively or negatively. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed . . He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” Proverbs 11:24-27 NIV. What is not to understand? God’s heart and desire were clear to the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. God’s promises are fulfilled within the measure of your obedience.

Let me state the principle simply and in a practical way. You get what you give, not what you want or demand. What you do not give first you will not receive except as charity, however much you expect or insist otherwise. When you do the right things in the right way, the Creator’s loving touch and generosity can be seen everywhere. In far more instances than the exceptions, good things happen to people who do good things for others. That is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Good deeds reproduce good deeds. Good will responds to good will. Kind words are the response from kind words. Generosity creates gratitude. Conversely, inappropriate actions or unworthy attitudes result in a similar return. Be an example, a good one. Whatever you expect of others, demand even more of yourself. You are wise to heed the warning of God’s Word, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

Life is not as you deem it to be, or wish that it were. Life is established on God’s terms, and works accordingly. You might muscle your will and way for a while, but inevitably and ultimately life works the way the Creator determined it should. As in the beginning, God has spoken over His creation, “Let there be, and there was.” That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be. God established eternal laws and principles by which His world works.

Foolishly and to minimal or temporary effect, you and I may try to force life to work the way we would prefer, but all efforts which are contrary to His Word, will, and wisdom, are eventually to little avail. Your lasting success, enduring satisfaction, and eternal reward depend on your learning God’s ways and cooperating with those. Isaiah was clear when He echoed God’s declaration, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways..’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV. It is foolish pride to think that any of us are wiser than God, even in the matters of our own daily life.

Jesus stated the truth simply, practically, and clearly. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV. That has often been referred to as the Golden Rule. The principle of return works for your good or to your loss, depending on how you choose to cooperate with its practical truth. “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

And Jesus identifies Himself with others,“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45 NIV. Our regard, or lack of regard, for others impacts what God is able to do for us. That too is the Law of Return. God’s Word is true and His provision is unfailing, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

My prayer for you and those who follow your example is, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord.” Psalm 115:14-15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for your life to abound with God’s grace and benevolence.

Christian Communications 2018

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Saved and You Know It

February 6th, 2018

God made salvation simple and certain; confess and believe.

 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

My thoughts and comments today are about, “saved and you know it.”

As a child I learned a simple truth from a few words in a children’s song, “If you’re saved and you know it, then your life will surely show it. If you’re saved and you know it, say Amen.” Matters of eternal salvation must not be left to speculation.

On this matter, you cannot afford to be wrong. The Bible is clear, “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the son does not have life. These things have I written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:12-13 NIV.

There are many people, good people, who have wrongly assumed that being good is all that is required to go to Heaven. They have trusted in their good works, such as: being moral, honest, good neighbors, charitable, or religious, but according to the Bible those are just not good enough. I recall someone observing that, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage can make you a car.” The Bible is clear. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.

How good is good enough? How many good works make you good enough for Heaven? Would God be fair and just if He left anything as important as your eternal soul to personal assumption or speculation? If I asked you, “What are you trusting right now to allow you into Heaven?” How would you answer? People offer diverse but wrong answers to such a simple question. But it is not what you think that matters, or sincerely believe, or prefer the answer would be, nor anyone else’s opinion that will make Heaven certain as your eternal home.

There is one standard alone for every person in every generation and nation, and that single standard is God’s Word. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. Who else could you trust to make this eternally consequential matter clear and specific for you? Exclusive? Unfair?

Some people may think so, but a single standard is inclusive, both equally fair and just to one and all. If it will not be adjusted to include someone who fails to meet that righteous standard, then neither could it be adjusted to exclude someone who does. Anyone who accepts God’s Son as their Savior can and will be included – whatever their nationality, language, origin of birth, personal history, or circumstance of life.

The Apostle Paul’s words were unequivocal, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” Romans 10:13 NKJV. No wonder it is called the Good News. No one – absolutely no one – can or will be refused. Here is the simple answer from God’s Word. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’” Romans 10:9-11 NLT. It is important that you know how to make Heaven your eternal home. God made salvation simple and certain. Confess and believe.

In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the word for confess – homologeo – literally means, “to say the same thing as.” The Bible is clear, certain, and unalterable, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. When from your heart, you say the same things about your sins that God says, about Jesus dying on the cross as redemption for your sins, and inviting Jesus to be your Savior, you receive complete forgiveness and confidence to embrace His promise of eternal salvation. God’s promise is specific and sure.

Here is how you are saved. Ask Jesus to forgive every disobedience and sin, place your faith and trust in Him as your Savior, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s confirming whisper in your heart that you are His and He is yours. Then believe and rejoice that God has done exactly what He promised He would do. You experience no greater joy than knowing your sins are forgiven forever. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NKJV. God will forget your sins. He will never forget you.

The Gospel is simple, clear, certain, true, and powerful to save. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-18 NIV.

Reading that phrase, “to save the world though Him,” are you amazed by the expansive scale and global scope of God’s heart and eternal agenda for the whole world? His love, grace, and passion was and remains as broad as to transform every nation, as far reaching as to redeem every generation, and yet as specific and personal as to redeem each single individual – “to save the world though Him.”

I love the sentiment of the aging apostle John when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 2 NIV. That is my sentiment, my joy, and my prayer for you.

Today, I pray for you to be certain about your salvation, never leaving eternity to chance.

Christian Communications 2018-307

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