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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Questions and Truth

May 17th, 2019

Truth Settles Doubt.

 ”If  any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.” James 1:5 NIV.

Lauren and Cody, my thoughts and comments today
?are about, “questions and truth.”

At one time or another, everyone will struggle with questions for which the answer is uncertain. Because of our imperfect knowledge and limited perspective, there are situations and seasons that feel bewildering. At those times, in vain we struggle to figure out what is puzzling to us.

You and I have not lived long enough or faced anything tough enough to have all the answers. When you are living and walking in obedience to God’s Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit, you can walk with trust and confidence. When your answers seem incomplete, you should seek and will receive wisdom from God.

Is there anyone who does not require wisdom for everyday life? When Solomon became the King of Israel, he asked God for one thing – wisdom! “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” 1 Kings 4:29 NIV. God’s wisdom is available to every sincere seeker of truth. The wisdom God granted Solomon is available to you and me today.

Here is the truth that the devil does not want you to know. ”If  any of you lacks  wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.” James 1:5-6 NIV.

Our Heavenly Father is not threatened by your doubts or questions. All questions are not sourced in unbelief. Only God has perfect knowledge. “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV. God has a great plan for your life, well beyond what you have imagined. Questions are often sourced in a sincere desire for truth, Our Father knows that our understanding is imperfect and inadequate much of the time. In those times, remember that your Father gave His Word and His Holy Spirit to answer sincere questions. The Word and the Spirit will always concur.

Jesus made you this promise, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” John 6:13 NKJV. If you had no questions, you would need no faith. Faith looks at the hardest uncertainties, and though without answers now simply trusts God’s love and wisdom to be enough. Trust in God, His Spirit, and His Word. You can be without doubts while wrestling with the toughest questions. Resting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Paul knew what was ahead but did not flinch or fear. Read Acts 20:22-23 NKJV. Paul must have had some questions. I would. You would. He probably did. But Paul knew where his answers would be found.

When you are uncertain and questions trouble your thoughts and rob you of peace, focus on God’s Word which is certain and unchanging. Our knowledge is limited at best. Be sure of what you do know rather than unsure about things you don’t know. Paul was confident and clear, “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is complete comes, what is partial will be done away  . . now I know partially, then I will know fully just as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NIV. Dwell on what you know; trust God and His love for what you don’t.

What leaves more unanswered questions than death and resurrection? After Paul’s expansive defense of the Resurrection, he summarizes this way, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Those clear character qualities – steadfast, immovable, and always abounding – are the marks of a mature Christian who has asked their questions, then chosen to move beyond their doubts to rest peacefully in God’s love and truth. When you have serious questions about life, you can still live and trust with no doubts about God.

Today, I pray for you to doubt your doubts and trust God’s Word.

EveryDay Life Communications 2019

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Practice and Performance

May 2nd, 2019

See Choices clearly.

Make choices wisely.

Reap Benefits Greatly.

“Physical training is of some value, but Godliness
has value for all things.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“practice and performance.”

Performance is directly related to practice. Training and practice prepare and enable your greater achievement. Marathon runners prepare long before they await the starters gun. Athletes practice for competition. Musicians rehearse for performances. Students study to master a subject. But the point of all of those is the same as a growing spiritual life must be for you. Performance increases in the measure that practice succeeds.

As a Christian, powerful, spiritual disciplines are available to you, as well as required for your success. Your spiritual preparation involves practice and discipline. Prayer is a practice, as is reading your Bible, meditating on Scripture, the discipline of fasting, necessity of Christian fellowship, liberality with treasure and talents, and serving God and others as Jesus taught us to do.

John wrote to the young Church, “Let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” Revelation 22:11 NAS. Do you practice righteousness? Doing the right thing each time does not come naturally nor easily. But Discipleship is accomplished by the sweat and tears of learning, training, discipline, practice, and finally performance.

You learn by doing, not once but again and again and again. You practice until the action becomes instinctive, scarcely requiring concentrated thought. No one enjoys practice, but enjoyment is neither the gauge of achievement nor the goal of the Christian life. Clarifying decision and consistent discipline are conditions for every success.

Practice lacks the invigorating challenge of competition. At practice, there is no thrill of victory just numbing repetition, discipline, and hard work. Whatever the sport, every coach requires more hours of practice than the actual time taken to play the game. The coach knows the physical and mental conditioning that will be required. In the pressure of the game situation, the exhausting drills in practice result in quicker reflexes, game winning skills, and provide the margin of difference between winning or losing.

Games are rarely won by one dramatic big play. Every win is possible because of the previous moments developing stamina and acquiring skills that an athlete learns in practice, along with the advantage of coaching before and throughout the course of a game. Those equip the athlete to excel and help their team to obtain a victory.

Paul understood, “You also must run in such a way that you will win. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So, I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.“ Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT. You were not called to leisure. You are called to have passion about spiritual growth and development. That which engages you and I daily is much more consequential, both presently and eternally. The requirement is great; the reward even greater.

The Apostle wrote to young Timothy, “Spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, promising life both for the present and for the future.” 1 Timothy 4:8 TEV. By the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, you are being trained to differentiate between what is good and what is not.

Read Hebrews 5:14 NLT. Accordingly, you can make wise life choices, reliably and consistently. Your well-being depends upon your doing so. In your spiritual life, practice enables performance. “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 NAS.

See the choices clearly and make your choices wisely, according to God’s Word. “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 NAS. That requires training and practice.

Today, I pray for you to be well trained and spiritually prepared.

Christian Communications 2019
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Facts and Effects

April 23rd, 2019


“Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits
of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:19-20 NIV.
My thoughts and comments on Easter are about, “Facts and Effects.”

Not all things are absolute truth, but the deity, birth, life, sacrificial death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus, and His certain return and rapture of the redeemed are absolutely true. You were created to enjoy life now and a timeless eternity with your Creator, along with all others who place their faith in Christ for salvation purchased by His death on the cross and assured by His resurrection from the tomb. Sadly, too many lives are lived confined and much smaller than God intended.

You were made in the image of a great God to enjoy an eternity with Him. Each Spring, our celebration of Calvary and the Resurrection reminds us that life extends beyond this brevity of years. As you celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and His promise of your own resurrection, remember one powerful, consequential truth.

During my college years (and that is quite a while ago), the Holy Spirit inspired a life-long passion in my heart to know God intimately, as I read Paul’s words, ”That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Read Philippians 3:10-12 NKJV. Do you hear the insatiable passion in Paul’s words? Why then are we content to settle for such shallow, inconsequential lives?

Paul desired and anticipated a depth of interaction and spiritual intimacy with Jesus that produce supernatural life. Paul described an intimate depth of knowledge that is personally experiential rather than merely intellectual. Too often we know much more intellectually than we are committed to experience spiritually.

AThe Hebrew and Greek form of the words, “to know Christ,” describe, “an intimate experience with the capacity and power to create and conceive, resulting in an expanded dimension of spiritual life.” Jesus said, ”It is the spirit that quickens (gives life); the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they [birth] life.” John 6:63 KJV. The fact of the Resurrection is a powerful and persuasive truth when an  unbelieving world witnesses the incontrovertible effects of the Resurrection in the lives of those who claim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

After his conversion, the Apostle Paul wrote, ”For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.” Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV. Paul considered this foundational truth to be, “of first importance.” The Holy Spirit prioritized the death and resurrection of Jesus as the foundational truth for your faith, life, and future destiny.  

Opinions change; feelings falter; truth always remains. God’s Word abides forever. Jesus assures us that, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 NIV. At the house of Cornelius, Peter declared that the literal Resurrection of Jesus, and the assurance of our own, is the cornerstone of our faith.

For those who witnessed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, there was no doubt whatsoever. They were eye witnesses. Their testimony was simple and clear, “God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen.” Acts 10:40-41 NIV. Today, you and I are the witnesses God has chosen. The central event of all history, as well as your eternal destiny, is the enduring cornerstone of the literal resurrection of Jesus and His triumphant return. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know the resurrection power of Jesus in daily life.

Christian Communications 2019
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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.”