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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Invest in Matters Eternal not Temporal

April 10th, 2019

Invest In Matters Eternal Not Temporal

“All who are tired from carrying heavy loads.” Matthew 11:28 NLT.

My thoughts and  comments
today are about, “A Life That Matters.”

Doing life God’s way works best. Doing life your way will never satisfy your heart. Jesus promises people the deepest kind of rest. And just how does Jesus accomplish that? He invites the weary to work alongside Him, and with Him. How does labor result in rest?

Jesus’ words seemed to contradict what people had previously experienced. Predominantly, work was manual and often exhausting. Maybe today, or at some other point in your life, you have felt physically exhausted, or emotionally depleted, or spiritually weary. Weariness takes varying forms. When Jesus spoke of effort, labor, and weariness, His listeners knew that He was talking about work.

Their daily lives were agricultural, and their livelihood depended upon the soil and the sea. They ate and bartered with what they could raise or catch. Neither was an easy task; both involved long and tedious hard work. A farmer’s yoke for his oxen or the  fisherman’s net were identifiable symbols of strenuous effort and physical weariness. And sometimes after all their best efforts, there still were disappointing results.

Exactly, to whom was Jesus talking?  The Bible is clear. Jesus invited, “All who are tired from carrying heavy loads.” Matthew 11:28 NLT. Are you one of those? Heavy loads are not always external. Sometimes they are more internal – unseen by others but not unknown by you. That heavy load could be confusion, emotions, worries, weariness, regrets, disappointment, mistakes, or uncertainties that can all weigh on your mind, weaken your hope, and weary your body and soul.

Do you identify with any of those? You work harder and longer but seem to have less evidence of success and satisfaction. Jesus’ invitation to the weary and to you and me is this: “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls . . My yoke is easy, and my burden is  light.” Read Matthew 11:28 30 NLT. You may have thought you knew how to make life work on your own terms. But the labor, with its accumulating concern and tiredness, finally catches up with you. That’s when Jesus says, “Let Me teach you.”

Here are three simple things Jesus will teach you.

(1) Do what pleases God. Anything else is extraneous and less important. Jesus lived without anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, or failure. Learn from His example:Jesus prioritized obedience above all else. “I always do what pleases the Father.” John 8:29 NIV. That is bedrock upon which to build an abounding life.

Serving God without learning what pleases Him is needlessly exhausting and fruitlessly ineffective. The Bible is clear. “Live a life worthy of the Lord, please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God.” Read Colossians 1:9-12 NIV.

(2) Do what God is doing. “Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and tells Him everything He is doing . . the very work that the Father has given Me to finish . . I am doing.”John 5:19-20/36 NLT/NIV. Life is best when you invest yourself in things eternal, rather than wasted on what is only temporal.

(3) Do everything at God’s direction and with His anointing. “The Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing.” John 5:19 NLT. Why live your life without including a great God? Nothing could be worse than coming to the end of your life and stand before a loving God with regret that so many years were wasted that could have been better invested in matters eternal.

Why squander a precious life too busy about things temporal but not eternal? Jesus gives His invitation to life, abundant now and eternal forever. Now, He awaits your initiative to obey.

Today, I pray for you to find assurance and contentment in life.

Christian Communications 2019
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The Eyes of Your Heart

April 3rd, 2019

Looking and seeing are not the same.
My thoughts and comments today are about,
“the eyes of your heart.”
”I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Ephesians 1:18 NIV.

Poetically, Shakespeare described the eyes as, “the window of the soul.” Your eyes and countenance mirror health and happiness as well as worry or weariness. There is much about a person that is mirrored in their eyes. I suggest that is also true of your spiritual life. Jesus explained, “When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light . . Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light.” Read Luke 11:33-36 NIV.

But let’s dig a little deeper and consider insight. Insight is seeing beneath and beyond what is obvious. That is more important still. Paul contrasted natural sight with spiritual insight, ”I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which God has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people.” Ephesians 1:18 NIV. Before reading further, take a few moments to consider Paul’s wonder of, “the hope and  the riches of His glorious inheritance!”

Too much of life is spent looking without really seeing. There is goodness and beauty all around you, when you have eyes to see from the heart. Often, we can see only the reflection of our own heart. When you see with love you achieve understanding. I think that would describe me in a museum or art gallery. I have wandered through world famous art museums in London, Berlin, Turkey, the world-famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Now an embarrassing confession. My wife, Gayle, was the one who saw more than I was capable to appreciate. In every instance, I was more tourist than art-lover. On one of those occasions, I recall watching a young student enthralled before a masterpiece, studying every brush stroke and vivid color while sketching a painting that I had glanced at for only a few moments, admired briefly, and then moved on. I looked. That student studied every exquisite detail with awe. Through the eyes of her heart, she saw beauty my eyes could not. I looked at the same priceless masterpiece but lacked the capacity to appreciate the priceless beauty before me.

I believe that is true in life and love. Until life is seen through the eyes of your heart, you will not see God’s masterful artistry in yourself or others.Some look at the Bible and the heart of the loving God it reveals yet see only His commandments without seeing His selfless compassion, sacrificial gifts, and sufficient grace. When you look with your heart, you will see what is plainly there to see. God loves you.

I have found this to be true. If you’re not looking through the eyes of your heart, you won’t see what you need to see. Look for God in your everyday life; look around you for His goodness in yourself and from others. He is there; open your heart. The truly spiritual life is no casual walk in the park. A spiritual life requires discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. In those, you meet and know God.

An indescribable day awaits you. ”For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV. You will see what you most need to see when you are where God wants you to be.

God welcomes you to meet Him in a place where you can know Him more fully, love Him sincerely, and enjoy Him completely. ”So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to have a heart to see God in every day and moment.

Christian Communications 2019
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“The eyes of your heart.”

The Rhythm of Rest.

March 28th, 2019

Rest Is Found in Jesus.

 “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“the rhythm of rest.”

Rest. Peace. Calm. Quiet. Refreshed. What calming words in such a busy, stressful world. But there are times when a slower pace, or fewer things on your to do list, or even an extra hour of sleep will not provide the rest you seek. Rest is always and only found in Jesus. Exhaustion does not come in a single form. Our common need includes rest for body, soul, and spirit.

Your spirit is revived through frequent and unhurried time in God’s presence. You renew your soul by regular worship and diligent study of God’s Word. You rebuild your strength when you depend on His. You recover optimism by your regular practice of meaningful prayer.  

I remember a season of life when my days felt too long and my nights too brief. As I sat alone with my Bible late that night, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind an obscure verse. I searched to find its reference. As I found and read that verse, I experienced profound rest in the Lord, strength from His Word, and ample grace. I learned its simple yet powerful truth: “Your strength will equal your days.” Deuteronomy 33:25 NIV.

God promises and gives abundant grace for each day. And then, He faithfully provides for every tomorrow. A favorite hymn of mine is, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Among its lyrics are this faith affirmation: “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

Jesus said, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34 NKJV. So much about life is learning how to prioritize your life.

Fill your thoughts with God Word. Welcome each new day with ample trust and each night empty your day of its cares. God’s Word is clear, ”Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV. God welcomes what you give Him. He will not take away your concerns without your surrender of them. When you are walking in obedience, strength is given according to your need.

Life has a rhythm between work and rest, activity and inactivity, productivity and replenishment.At creation, God Himself modeled the helpful and healthful rhythm of work and rest when he created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh and commanded us to do so as well.

Rest and work are seldom equal parts, but they certainly are parts of equal importance. Discover that rhythm and you will have all the strength and energy you need. Ignore that and life doesn’t work as well for you, no matter how much you want it to work or how diligent you are to make it so.

Can you identify yourself with what the disciples must have felt? “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31 NIV. Even though the disciples were involved in good things for others, that was not enough to make it good for them. Rest is found in Jesus.

Life will only change for you when you finally tire of being tired. Only then will you make the necessary changes for that to be different.

Burnout is an undeniable fact of today’s high stress, success driven society. The price is inestimable that is exacted on marriages, personal relationships, quality of life, and spiritual fulfillment. Don’t become a statistic. When you do God’s work in God’s way, you will have God’s peace and rest for your soul.

Today, I pray for you to keep pace with God, neither hesitating nor hurrying.

Christian Communications 2019  
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Plans Predict Success

March 20th, 2019

Failure to Plan Is a Sure Plan to Fail.

 “May God grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. ” Psalm 20:4 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“plans Predict Success.”?

Success has essential components to achieve any worthwhile goal – strong desire, deliberate efforts, dedicated purpose, a practical plan, and patient determination. Even the best of plans may not succeed, but if you have no plan, the result is just whatever happens. There is a practical reality I have learned. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Planning is the practical process that envisions success and endeavors to achieve that. A practical and realistic plan expresses your faith in the possibilities of your future. But you and I cannot know the future; only God best knows that. How do you plan for a future you do not foresee? Ask your Father in Heaven. The Bible advises, “If you need wisdom -if you want to know what God wants you to do- ask Him, and He will gladly tell you.” James 1:5 NLT. Practical wisdom can be described as, “the God-given ability to see your situation from God’s point of view. Imagine the difference such a viewpoint makes. Here are some practical things I have learned.

Planning must begin with God. Remember that your future is not yours to determine alone. Wisdom begins with humility. “Submit yourselves, then, to God.” James 4:7 NIV. Over the years, I have observed and learned that the least of God’s plans will be better than the best of mine.Paul was clear,“This ‘foolish’ plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25 NLT. Place your trust in God’s purpose for your life and take time to know what God wants for you and from you. Solomon was wise, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

Planning clarifies direction and dictates action. Such a process secures your focus and marshals your resources to best achieve your intent. Without a wise and practical plan, time, effort, and resources will be wasted. The Psalm asks, ”Why do the people waste their time with futile plans?” Psalm 2:1 NLT. The best of plans is futile wherever God was not included.

Planning directs your best efforts. Obedience and faithfulness help you realize God’s purpose. Those are not a way to realize your own desires. Isaiah warned a nation, “All your feverish plans are to no avail because you never ask God for help.” Isaiah 22:11 NLT. Sadly, that warning could be said too frequently of any of us.

Planning welcomes the help of others. There are very few things, if any, that are best accomplished on your own. “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without the advice of others.” Proverbs 20:18 NLT.

Planning begins with God’s plans. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for your good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. Here is the thing of which you can be confident: “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations . . the Lord will work out His plans for my life.” Psalm 33:11 NIV/138:8 NLT. With this prayer, I end where I began. “May God grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.”Psalm 20:4 NLT.

Today, I pray that you desire to have God’s blessings above all else.

Christian Communications 2019
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Love Is for Sharing

March 15th, 2019

Love Is a Choice You Make.

 “Love one another; as I have loved you.” John 13:34 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are that, “Love is for sharing.”

At times, love can be challenging for any of us. The Bible would not command us to love if love was not possible for us. Love is not a feeling you have; love is a choice you make. Can anyone learn to love? Most certainly, God’s answer is yes. God set the precedent when He loved you and me – and such love was extended to the whole world. “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 NIV. Real love is always sacrificial.

Jesus was clear about His mission. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. Abundant life now! Everlasting life forever! “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.” John 3:16 NKJV. How long has it been since you gratefully reflected on those glorious, foundational, and liberating truths?

About love, Jesus’ commandment was clear. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 NKJV. Notice that those words are not a suggestion or a lofty goal beyond your ability to accomplish. How is such love possible? When you experience God’s love, you are changed from the inside out. The ongoing conformation to love others as Jesus loved you is the surest evidence of spiritual transformation. Obedience supplies ability.

Is that easy all the time? Definitely not! But would God ever ask you to do something you are incapable of doing without providing His example to guide you and His Holy Spirit to empower you to do so?

Love is meant to be shared, not stored until a special occasion. And love is not earned; love is best when freely given. I think the foundation for love is Jesus’ reasonable admonition: “Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8 NIV. If ever you have experienced God’s love through Christ by the power of the Spirit, you are capable of profound love. The followers of Jesus marveled at the news of Saul’s conversion was described this way, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Galatians 1:23 NKJV. Read Acts 27:1-37. The love of God changed a persecutor into a preacher of grace.

Love inspires and instills passion. Passionately, Paul prayed, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. Paul longed to know Christ, whatever the sacrifice and suffering required. Notice the multilayered component to an empowered life. (1) the power of His Resurrection, and (2) personal identification with Christ’s sufferings,and (3) embracing the life-changing conformation of Jesus’ selfless surrender. There are no shortcuts.

Today, I pray for you to know that God’s love is always transforming.


Christian Communications 2019

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