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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Ultimate Questions

October 19th, 2019
“ULTIMATE QUESTIONS”
 
Leave no Doubt.
”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Romans 8:35 NIV.
 
Questions! Everyone has them, because it is impossible to know what you don’t know. Daily life is full of questions while offering few answers. But you can learn if you look where truth and wisdom can be found. Truth and wisdom rest in the Creator of all. The Bible foretold the nature of the Savior Who would come, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJ.
 
In the fertile ground of reverence, wisdom grows. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Questions encourage your desire to learn and when correctly answered, your knowledge increases.
 
Questions are good if they lead you to the right answers. If you don’t have questions and ask them, and understand the answers, you won’t know more than you already know. Without truth you will never increase in practical wisdom. Seek truth. Truth is the seedbed of wisdom. Solomon asked God for one thing. He asked for wisdom. Solomon wrote the wisdom books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
 
From both his successes and failures, Solomon learned, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 NKJ. That is great advice still. Without wisdom and knowledge, you neither learn nor grow. Knowledge provides information. Wisdom promotes inspiration. When you are not growing, you will not fulfill your God-given purpose in life.
 
Since I was a university student, this has been a life-verse for me, “That I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJ. In my lifetime, I have had my share of questions. Everyone does. Life doesn’t always appear to make sense at a given moment.
When life is confusing and you have more questions than answers, you can rest, In the Father and His Son, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 NKJ. Paul viewed his life from God’s vantage point. “Now we see things imperfectly . . then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 NLT.
In God’s Word, you discover wisdom and truth. Acquaint yourself with God’s Word. You will always find truth and wisdom there. Above all else, one question must not remain unclear or unanswered. Ask yourself, “where will I spend eternity?” That is the ultimate question. Let me be clear. This is the ultimate truth, “Salvation is in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NKJ. Jesus is His name.
 
Paul wrote with triumph and conviction, ”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Read Romans 8:36-39 NKJ. Those words are your ultimate assurance.
 
My prayer for you today is to be assured that you have settled eternal matters.
 
EDL Communications 2019
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Wants Versus Needs

October 3rd, 2019

What You want to Have Is Rarely What You Ought To Have.

 ”My God shall supply all your need according to His riches.”

Philippians 4:19

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“wants versus needs.”

Needs and desires present a challenge to learn that they are distinct and different. Each of us is a unique combination of both. Be wise and discerning. Your insistent desires can pose themselves as legitimate needs. The challenge appears to be our lack of ability to distinguish between our ample wants and our authentic needs. Often, you and I become confused by their apparent similarities. What you want to have is rarely what you ought to have. I can think of times when I wasted valuable energy and expense to get what I wanted only to find that was not at all what I needed.

Your knowledge of God’s Word and your sensitivity and submission to the Holy Spirit are essential. The Bible is clear, ”And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14 NKJV. That amazing offer has a qualifying intention. You must not lose sight of Heaven’s priority. And your priority should be the same, “That the Father may be glorified.”

Everything is not about you or me. Get over yourself. First and foremost, your life as well as mine are for His pleasure and purpose. Humility and deferred satisfaction are invaluable to the soul. Invoking the Lord’s name should be done appropriately. Those words are the solemn confession of covenant. Be cautious about misusing that incredible privilege of access to all that our Father has offers.

The problem lies in the fact that we are earth bound and shortsighted. The Apostle Paul provided practical counsel and solution for our dilemma, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 NKJV. Perspective clarifies priority. I love the simplicity and beauty of a worship chorus from earlier years. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” So true. So reorienting. So restoring. Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV. The Holy Spirit sees and knows your heart.

Jesus has a single priority in all things, “that the Father may be glorified.” That never changes, no matter how determined you may be in your asking. The Bible is clear, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3 NIV. God will supply your needs but never promised  to always provide your wants. While in a Roman prison, the Apostle Paul’s testimony was this: “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.” Philippians 4:11 The Message. That is the simple secret to a contented life. Be careful that your requests are not delivered as requirements, to either God or man. Not yet does not mean never. Not yet may just mean not now. Trust in God’s impeccable timing and unfailing generosity.

My prayer for you today is to be thankful for what you have, and trust God for what you need. His love and character are forever, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

EDL Communications 2019

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Practical Wisdom

September 25th, 2019

Wisdom Is Found From God’s Perspective.

”You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from above.”  1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “practical wisdom.”

Life can be confusing, if you don’t get it straight and keep it straight. Sometimes life seems as though someone has maliciously changed the price tags. In popular culture, it seems that we are encouraged to prize things momentarily and minimize matters of eternal value and consequence. Beware of valuing things of limited or little worth. And be even more beware of devaluing matters of enduring importance and eternal consequence.

Jesus warned, ”Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20 NLT. That is what practical wisdom looks like. Wisdom empowers you to do the right things at the right time for the right reason. A fulfilling life requires wisdom.

Across the years, I have been helped by this simple description. Wisdom results from seeing yourself and others from God’s perspective. Doing that changes anything and everything. Here is the practical truth, ”If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. To be well lived, your life must value, and seek, and gather, and hold fast to practical wisdom.

This was Solomon’s counsel. “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you. Wisdom will bring you honor, when you embrace her.” Proverbs 4:7-8 NKJV. Practical wisdom should be, and can be, modeled in your daily life.

God’s Word provides you a definition of practical wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom . . wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Read James 3:13-17 NIV.

Imagine how differently you would view and live your life if you took the Apostle James’ words to heart and translated them daily into your priorities and practice. True wisdom is practical. Practical wisdom is this: doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons, for the glory of God and the edification  of others. Wisdom lives with a concern for doing the right thing for the broadest benefit to others.

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJV. God does not leave you on your own in the pursuit of Godly wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all.” James 1:5 TEV. Generously and graciously to all. Such an amazing promise.

God is the Source of all true wisdom.

Jesus is the Embodiment of wisdom.

The Holy Spirit is the Resource for wisdom.

For wisdom, you need God’s help which is exactly what He promises to provide. Jesus connected wisdom with truth, and linked truth with the One who is the Spirit of truth: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. John 16:13 NLT. Living wisely is living in Christ. Paul was clear, “You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV. Read Ephesians 1:7-9 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live wisely, open and honest before God and man.

EDL Communications 2019

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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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