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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Hope Fuels the Soul

September 19th, 2019

Hope Is The Forerunner of  joy.

“I have pitched my tent in the land of hope.”

Acts 2:26 The Message.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Hope Fuels the Soul.”

Hope is both gift and lift to the human spirit. Hope is more than a feeling, deeper than emotions. Hope is a conviction. You can live without many things, but you will not live well, nor live as long without hope. Hope is the forerunner of joy. Hope is life-giving and doubt-destroying. Hope fuels the soul. In contrast, hopelessness is crushing to one’s heart and spirit.

Hope is as essential to your soul as breath is to your body. Both are vital, restorative, and life-enriching. You will live better and more fully each day by finding a reason for hope. The Bible describes this hope we have as being, “like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our soul.” Hebrews 6:19 NLT. Hope is not wishful thanking. Hope is a firm conviction of God’s character and faithfulness.

Hope does not mean that all will be as you wish. Hope rests in the truth that everything will be according to God’s will and wisdom, and always accompanied by His abounding love and sufficient grace. I remember when my Mom suffered a massive, cerebral hemorrhage and was not expected to live through the day. The neurosurgeon could offer us no hope. That dreadful day stretched to difficult weeks. We could not dare to believe for much more than each precious minute.

I remember well the morning when our love for her was joined by hope. After weeks unable to do anything for herself, and contrary to every medical prognosis, and beyond natural explanation, she regained consciousness. For her remaining weeks, days were filled with love, laughter, and memories. God graciously had given our family renewed hope. And hope does not disappoint. Read Romans 5:3-5 JB Phillips.

In the New Testament, King David is quoted, “I have pitched my tent in the land of hope!” Acts 2:26 The Message. I love David’s affirmation of faith. What a statement of trust with courage and confidence. Where is your tent planted? Dread or hope? Doubt or trust? Sorrow or joy? Regret or gratitude? Fear or faith? Everyone lives somewhere. Your circumstance need not determine your address or destiny.

David chose to live, “in the land of hope.” When God, or others, go looking for you,  where will you be found – in the land of doubt, despair, fear, discouragement, or self pity? Are you dreading the future, or making plans with hope? You can let your circumstance determine where you dwell, or you can choose to pitch your tent in such a place and in such a way that every morning the first reality you see is the face of God and a brighter future.

David expressed his experience this way, “I saw God before me at all time. Nothing can shake me; He’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.” Acts 2:25-26 The Message. Keep hope alive in your heart.

Pitch your tent where you want your future to be found. Yours and my future rest in the providence of God. Paul prayed for the Roman Christians, “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV. His prayer is my prayer for you. The God of hope; what a wonderful description of our Father God.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16 NKJV. How does God give you god hope? “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5 NIV.

My prayer for you today is for your future be filled with day-brightening hope.

EDL Communications 2019

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Transformative Love

September 10th, 2019

Practice Loving practically.

“Love one another. As I have loved you,  So you must love one another.” John 13:34 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Transformative Love.”

Let’s admit a sad truth. None of us are as naturally loving as God created and commanded us to be. Our spiritual frailty traces back to our origin and natural bloodline. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, a poisonous disinclination to obedience misdirected the loving nature God intended.

Redemption is the transformational moment when God redeems your past,

restores your future, and recruits you to carry His Good News.

The Bible is assuring: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NIV. You are redeemed to be both evangel and evidence of God’s grace. The power of reconciliation is love. “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV.

Once reconciled to God, you are empowered to touch hearts and change lives. Practice loving practically. Practice improves effect and impact. To the extent that you understand how beloved you are by God and others, you are enabled, even empowered, to love others freely.

Real love  for God is expressed in the grace of loving others. Let’s consider some practical aspects of transformative love. Love can be defined as: “a purposeful and effective act of adding value to other’s lives.” How does that occur? The Bible says, “Serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Read Galatians 5:13-14 NIV. To be authentic, love must be practical and observable. People have loved me in practical ways. I have been blessed to have so many who loved me enough to add value to my life. They continued to invest themselves to help me realize more of God’s intentions for my life.

They spent time with me. They shared what they had learned, offering their wisdom gathered from experiences of both successes and failures. Their example spared me from missteps and mistakes. They believed in me. They expected better of me and encouraged me to a higher standard than may have been natural for me.

How then can you love others and add value to their lives? Simply stated, you can place a higher value on others. Think of others as highly as you think of yourself. Read Romans 12:2-4 NKJV. Treat others as well as you wish to be treated. Speak of others as you would hope others would speak of you.

Desire for others what you desire for yourself. Rejoice in their accomplishments as you wish to be praised for yours. Rejoice in their successes and identify with their struggles, as you welcome congratulation and comfort in your daily ups and downs.

When you allow God to love you, really love you as only He can, and when you choose and learn to be loving toward others, you will also learn to love yourself with humility. There is a great day coming of reward and blessing for what you have done in His Name and for His glory, and for the edification of others.

Jesus was clear about love, ”Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father . .  for I was hungry, and you gave Me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in . . ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’” Read Matthew 25:34-40 NKJV.

Everything done in His Name will be blessed and bless others. Jesus will take your five inadequate loaves and too few fish and satisfy a multitude with plenty to spare. Love changes lives – yours as well as others lives.

My prayer for you today is to learn the power of love and generosity.

EDL Communications 2019

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Change is Your Choice

August 27th, 2019

“CHANGE IS YOUR CHOICE”

God’s Way Is the Right Way.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world
but be transformed.” Romans 12:2 NIV.

Situations and seasons of life hold the power to greatly shape who you become. Those moments may appear incidental at first, but they touch matters which are eternal. When you meet God in ways you have not previously known Him, that moment can change you forever. Experiences, as well as relationships, produce defining moments that impact what you will value and how you will live. Moments define individuals, marriages, families, friendships, communities, churches, nations, and even eternity.

Jacob is a case in point. He spent much of his life running. He ran from home after deceiving his father. He ran from Esau, a brother he had cheated and angered. Jacob ran from Laban, a conniving uncle who prospered at his expense. Really, Jacob was running from himself, probably unhappy with who he had become.

Running from God is exhausting and ineffective. Jacob ran from God, until he was too tired to run anymore. That happens to everyone eventually. You just get weary of the public masquerade and tired of being someone less than you are meant to be. In that moment, of self-discovery, you are finally ready to meet God without conditions. That’s when Jacob met God. “So, Jacob was left alone, and God wrestled with him until daybreak.” Genesis 32:24 NIV. God knows that you are worth His every effort. Eventually, Jacob’s heart turned toward home, a home he had left long before. An admired friend of mine described home this way, “Home is a place, where when you come there, they have to let you in.” Jacob headed homeward.

He sent messengers to Esau that he was coming; he sent his servants and herds and flocks ahead with gifts for Esau. He finally sent his family, and all his possessions. Jacob was tired of running; he was coming home. First, he faced the problems of his past. That is always your first step toward future blessings. Alone, Jacob struggled with God until his breakthrough. I think Jacob was struggling with himself more than God. At last, Jacob wanted to be right more than rich.

I love the longsuffering and patience of our Heavenly Father. Jacob’s story has defining moments. He recognized that he had to face the man he had become. He had to face Esau, the brother he had betrayed. And most importantly, he had to make things right with God.

Are there amends you need to make? The Bible is clear. ”If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-25 NIV.

I love the moment of truth. “God wrestled with Jacob until daybreak.” Genesis 32:24 NIV. God’s loving pursuit of you is indefatigable. Read 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV. God wrestled with Jacob until Jacob wanted what God alone could provide, “I will not let you go unless You bless me.” Read Genesis 32: 27-29 NKJV. Any life without God at its center is not worth living.

God is serious about your need for change; you must be serious about needing His help to change. “Do not conform 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.

My prayer for you today is to know and highly value all which is eternal.

EDL Communications 2019
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Wants, Needs, and God

August 13th, 2019

WANTS, NEEDS, AND GOD

God’s Supply is Unfailing.
“My God will meet all your needs according to
the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV.

Most of us seem to be a bundle of needs. More realistically, we are a bundle of wants. However, Google search lists only five basic needs for physical survival: oxygen, water, food, shelter, and sleep. Needs are less numerous than wants. Often wants will pose themselves as needs. Wants are about personal preferences. Needs are about necessary provision.

Wants are your responsibility to provide. Needs are God’s delight and promise to provide. When it seems I need a lot of things I don’t have, I discover most of those are things I want more than things I lack. Invite the Holy Spirit to examine your heart.

God promises to, “supply all your needs according to His riches.” Be cautious about wanting more things than you are willing to expend the effort and expense they would require. Yes, you and I have needs. We always will, because none of us are self-sufficient.

True needs, as contrasted with wants, are fewer than you might suppose them to be. God’s Word assures that you can always trust your needs to His care because we can trust His benevolent generosity. I love this Bible verse. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV. ”So do not worry, . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33 NIV.

Across my lifetime, I have found God’s Word true. “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV. That is His promise from Heaven’s never depleted resources. But please notice that our Heavenly Father promised to meet all your needs, not all your wants.

God will supply your lack or provide your needs in both normal and miraculous ways. God also works through people to provide the help you lack. And God wants to use you as a channel of His blessings and provision to others and use others as the delivery system from His heart and hands, becoming deposits of His grace and provision to your life. The stark reality is this. Without the sufficiency of God and generosity of others, we will be incomplete, limited, and inadequate. You need God. Every person needs God. God needs you and people need you.

You and I were designed for interdependence. God will provide what we lack. Through you or others, God will supply what I need but lack. You and I were never created to be independent of God or one another. However, or by whomever your needs are met, God is the Source.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17 NKJV. God’s blessings and gifting in your life and God’s blessings in others lives are for mutual benefit, spiritual edification, and Christian witness. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-31.

Here is my summary of this matter. ”Now, to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV. Yet the measure of what God gives is not limited to natural sources. Are you inviting God and allowing others to be God’s channels of His love and provision for your daily needs?

His promise is sure. “[Do not] have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek [a]the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12:29-30 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is to be confident in God’s promise and provision.

EDL Communications 2019
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The Ways of God

August 7th, 2019

God’s Way Is the Right Way.

“Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live
according to your truth!” Psalm 86:11.

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“the ways of God.”

Have you ever presumed that your way of doing things is the right way? Of course, you have. I have as well. Maybe you have considered your way was even the best way. Hopefully, you have lived long enough to know that your way is not the only way and often not the best way. On some occasion, most of us have presumed that, without even thinking about it.

In marriage, as well as friendships, such assumptions are soon challenged. As is typical of most marriages, my wife’s family and my family celebrated birthdays and holidays similarly, but just a little differently. A couple or a family’s behaviors are not necessarily better or worse, just different.

Gayle and I soon learned to consider together the best of what was familiar to us individually, then find what could become distinctive to us as we constructed our marriage and family together.

But my thoughts today are not about past history, previous experience, or personal preference. My thoughts and comments are about a holy passion to learn fully, value highly, and obey readily the ways of God. I am considering what the New Testament described as the old man and the new man in Christ.

God holds up His thoughts and ways and compares His with ours. You and I do not come out well in that comparison. God’s ways are these, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT.

Reflect on God’s comparison of His, “ways and thoughts,” and your own. God’s ways and thoughts are always higher and well beyond anything you or I could imagine or achieve without Him. It’s really this clear and simple. “As for God, His way is perfect.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. What is left to compare? Every other comparison must fall short and be found inadequate.

Here is where you begin. Bring your heart and thoughts to Him with this humble request. “Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor You.” Psalm 86:11 NLT. Moses promised Israel, ”For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do – to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him – then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.” Deuteronomy 11:22-23 NKJV.

This is not complicated. Be assured. God promises that, “A man though a fool will not err therein.” Isaiah 35:8 KJV.

My prayer for you today is for you to know, choose, and walk in the ways of God.

EDL Communications 2019
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