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 That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be.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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The Fragrance of Joy

January 31st, 2018

Your life should express the fragrance of His presence.

 “Thanks be to God, Who through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Fragrance of Joy.”

Life is not perfect for anyone, and every moment is not filled only with wonderful things. Life changes dramatically, and for the better, when you realize that your circumstances do not determine your experience of life; your attitude does.

I admire people who have faced more struggles and disappointments than most, but who have nevertheless found grace and grown an attitude that reflects who they are, instead of what happened to them. I have met others who have a fairly easy life with few challenges of any consequence, and yet they find little for which to be joyful or thankful. Occasionally, it is a good thing to ask yourself, “Does my life reflect to others what is going on around me, or what is really true inside me?” That significant and substantial difference is the product of the choices you make.

Since a child, I have loved the dramatic Bible stories in the Old Testament, like Samson finally triumphing over the Philistines and himself, or Daniel in the lions’ den whose quiet trust in God humbles an arrogant King, or the three Hebrews delivered from Babylon’s fiery furnace (modern day Iraq). I find a most intriguing comment, easily unnoticed, tucked into this story of the three believers tossed angrily into a furnace intended to destroy them. Read Daniel 3. When the fire could not destroy them nor even harm them, the amazed, befuddled king calls them out of the fire.

The Bible says, “They saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected – not even the smell of smoke was on them.” Daniel 3:27. There was no discernible residue of their frightening experience, no lingering emotional trauma, nor need for healing of memories. Only their new and stirring testimony of God’s greatness and faithfulness persevered.

If you are not careful, you will allow your past or present circumstances to determine your attitudes, dictate your feelings, and dominate your conversation. When your story could be a persuasive testimony that glorifies God, it will be only about you and your problems. Read Daniel 3:28-29. In Daniel’s story, a king’s heart is changed; God is glorified; a nation is impacted. The simple difference is that they were with Jesus, joyfully in His company and safely in His care. See Daniel 3:24-25. Attitude really is crucial, having the power to change everything and anyone, and that all begins with the choice you make.

Paul prayed for these Christians and for you, ”We pray that you will be strengthened with His glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father, Who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God’s holy people, who live in the light.” Colossians 1:11-12 NLT. Whose joy is to fill you? “Always be full of the joy of the Lord!” Like a thermometer, happiness merely measures the surrounding climate and adjusts accordingly. The joy of the Lord resembles a thermostat, regulating and governing the surrounding temperature.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God, Who . . through us spreads everywhere the fragrance  of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved.” Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NIV. Some years ago, I learned to pray, “Let my life express the fragrance of Your presence, not the smell of my problems.”

Today, I pray for your life to be a joyful testimony of God’s grace and sufficiency.

Christian Communications 2018-(807)

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God Moments

January 25th, 2018

In God’s will, faith grows strong.

 “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, God Moments.”


Many years ago, I almost missed what would later become a most important moment of my life. In retrospect, I am grateful that my choice did not negate everything that our ministry and family have enjoyed since. I have learned that choices that seem simple at the moment can have long term and life-long effects, for your life as well as impacting others.

More than forty years ago, I received a phone call on behalf of a church seeking a pastor. The caller said, “You have been recommended as a pastor for us. Would you be interested?” I listened politely, but without much hesitation or consideration responded, “Thank you, but I am not interested.” Unknown to me in that God moment, I was being offered a choice that had the power to shape the rest of our lives, our children’s lives, and now our grandchildren and great grandchildren’s lives. I was so occupied with my present and pleasant circumstances that I almost missed our future.

Mistakenly, I assumed that decision was mine to make. I did not realize that moment – as every moment of any of our lives – was in God’s hand and I was accountable to His sovereign and always benevolent will. No sooner were the words out of my mouth, than deep inside I knew they were wrong. My disinterest guided my choice, but God’s will must always be of first importance. God’s voice in my heart was saying something much different than what I had so quickly volunteered.

I quickly apologized, and even more quickly and silently repented to God, before I changed my answer to say, My wife and I would prayerfully consider your invitation if this were to be God’s will, and if your church leadership and congregation wish us to do so.” We came for a visit; God confirmed His will to the Church and to my wife and I, and we were invited to be their pastor. That was Trinity Church in San Antonio where we have lived and served for forty blessed and prosperous years.

We have seen our children grow up and marry here, welcomed grandchildren and spouses, and great-grandchildren to our family. We found a home, fruitful ministry, and wide circle of friends that I cannot imagine having lived without their partnership and company. Committing to God’s will and walking in obedience to His voice has resulted in a life rich with blessing and provision beyond what we could have foreseen – a divinely directed moment.

I am reminded of Jesus invitation, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Revelation 3:20 NIV. Our life, marriage and family, and extent of ministry would have been profoundly different if we had not recognized that God moment.

As a priority, you much choose to hear His voice, and love and trust His will. Life is often shaped, and your success or failure determined by recognizing such life-defining moments – God moments – and having the discernment and courage to seize them when God has prepared you for that moment. Solomon was wise to advise, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Read Proverbs 4:5-9 NIV.

You will need wisdom and discernment. Not everything that comes your way is an opportunity you should embrace. Diversions and distractions may be attractive but may be inconsistent with your greater goals and commitments. They may be tempting, unless you listen for God’s whisper in your heart, “I have something better for you; be patient.”

Keep your heart in God’s hand and trust Him to guide and direct your steps. God’s promise is clear, “You will hear a word behind you saying, ‘this is the way, walk in it,’ . . the steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord; He delights in every detail of their lives.” Isaiah 30:21/ Psalm 37:23 NLT. Every detail; imagine that!

At all times, it is important to value and recognize God’s voice above your own thoughts and others’ opinions. See Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV. You will hear competing voices of fear, or prejudice, or temptation, or distraction, or just personal preference. When you believe it is God’s voice: consider Scripture (God never contradicts His Word), seek Godly counsel, pray honestly, and then walk obediently and circumspectly. “Be careful how you live . . as wise people . . find out what the Lord wants you to do.” See Ephesians 5:14-17 NIV.

When you know and obey God’s will, then your faith will be strong, and you will live more wisely. Solomon observed, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know God’s voice and follow God’s will.

Christian Communications 2018-908

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Wants and Needs

January 19th, 2018

Unprecedented affluence indulges an insistent immediacy.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “wants and needs.”

We often confuse what we want with what we need. You need a few things. You want a lot of things. Some things you want at the wrong time. Some times you just want the wrong thing. Life is complicated and disappointments are frequent, if you live as though you should have whatever you want and whenever you want it. Even if you had anything and everything that you want, you still would not be happy and content. You just wouldn’t; life doesn’t work like that.

What comes too quickly or easily isn’t as appreciated as things that require added patience  and greater effort. Unprecedented affluence indulges an insistent immediacy. Most of us have far more than our grandparents ever imagined possible, and even more than our parents ever possessed. And still we want more and want it sooner. Deferred gratification is missing in today’s culture. Today, we expect instant gratification that a former generation never knew. People desire to have the best and assume they need to have the latest as well, without regard to expense.

Right now is rarely wiser than soon or later. Our parents and grandparents saved for what they wanted rather than having the option to charge it. When did immediate purchases on credit cards replace layaway? Are we better for that? No one needs everything they think they have to have, and no one need to have everything they want. What kind of values and example are we providing the next generation?

There is a verse that seems chilling to our insistence that God provide everything and does so promptly. The “He gave them their request, but sent leanness to their souls.” Psalm 106:15 NKJV. Like ancient Israel, I fear there is a leanness of soul that has been the result of demanding to have what we would not first trust God to provide. Consider this. If you don’t have what you want and can’t afford its cost, maybe God knows better than you that your want is not your need at that time. The Bible offers a caution, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.” James 4:3 NIV. Father always knows best.

In God’s view, this is no small matter. I was stunned as I read aloud the blunt words of the verses before and after this one. God described this needless consumption and spending as an adulterous relationship with the world – seduced by a false lover, rather than prizing a pure devotion to God. Read James 4:1-10 NIV. Where does such an unholy attitude start? James words were clear, “You want something but don’t get it!” See Hebrews 13:5 NIV.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you felt you could not live without it? That is an open door to debt and financial bondage. Debt allows people to rely on an unpredictable provider. Sadly, parents who cannot say no to themselves certainly cannot say no to their children and teens. And one generation’s debt addiction passes to the next, who simply adds to their debt while not knowing any better than to do so.

If you insist on obtaining by your own means what God does not supply, there is a leanness of soul that signals the absence of His blessing. Read Psalm 106:6-15 NKJV. My Dad once warned me, “Be careful what you insist on having; you might succeed.” And older and wiser, I would add, “And be the poorer for for your misdirected success.”

I would rather have less with God’s provision than to have more without His blessing. Learn to trust this truth, “And with all His abundant wealth through Christ Jesus, my God will supply all your needs.” Philippians 4:19 TEV. His source and resources are abundantly beyond your ability to measure or comprehend.

Today, I pray for you to be content with what you have and trust God for what you need.

Christian Communications 2018-509

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