Archive for December, 2010

A Blessed and Joyous Christmas

December 14th, 2010

I greatly value the privilege of sharing my thoughts and comments with you about the practical wisdom of God’s Word. With some joyful, family responsibilities this week – the graduation from Texas A&M of our eldest granddaughter and her husband – and the added Christmas events and activities of our preschools and Academy, and some major administrative responsibilities at our church and schools right now, as well as setting aside additional time with family and friends at the Christmas season, I think it wise to take a Christmas break from writing, until the first of the New Year. I may or may not make time to send an occasional EveryDay Life during these remaining weeks of 2010, but will do so when and as the Lord places something from His heart into my heart for you.

Have a blessed and joyous Christmas, never forgetting the One whose birth, life, and sacrifice we celebrate!My Christmas theme this year was “The Impossible True Story.” I stand amazed with Mary – asking, “how can these things be?” – only to realize that the Almighty God would come into my world in the most impossible way – just for me, and you! No wonder they called His name “Wonder-full!” I love that He was also called “Immanuel, who is God with us.”

P. S. This could be an occasion to browse the archives of over 450 previous devotionals available at the web page . .


Never Too Late

December 13th, 2010

“As . . Peter was standing by the fire.” John18:25 NLT

There’s only one right thing to do about a wrong thing.”

My thoughts today are, “never too late.”

You know when you let someone down; you know when you fail to meet your own standard, as well as others’ expectations of you. It’s not a good feeling. You know when you don’t do what you should do. The question is not whether or not you will do so. The only question is: when will you do that and what you will do when you fail? We all fail. The Bible says, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 NLT. Don’t let failure be final, or it will become fatal!

Simon Peter knew exactly how that felt. Once, he had pledged his allegiance to Jesus, swearing to give his life if required. Earlier that day, Peter had taken a sword to defend Jesus against soldiers who had come to arrest Him in Gethsemane. And now, Peter again swears an oath – but this time, he is denying that he even knew Jesus! Jesus had warned Peter that he would be tempted to do so, “before the rooster crows, you will deny Me twice!” Read Matthew 26:69-75 NLT.

Sadly and too late, Peter realized how vulnerable he had become with the pressures of recent circumstances. He found himself in the wrong situation, and at the wrong place, and doing the wrong thing. Then the rooster crowed and “Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind . . and he went away, crying bitterly.” Don’t make the same mistake. Doing wrong never turns out right.

You will feel pressure. When you feel that pressure to do what you shouldn’t do – maybe pressure for your own temporary pleasure or personal gain, or maybe from peer pressure that conforms to a sinful culture – you can fail to do what you know you should. Your difficult decision at such moments reveals who you are most willing to please or displease; will you satisfy yourself, please your friends, or obey God? “Don’t copy the customs and behavior of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2 NLT. It’s simple really: don’t conform; be transformed!

It is tempting to excuse your wrongdoing, or to blame someone else for what you’ve chosen to do. The wrong is on you. There’s only one right thing to do about a wrong thing. Don’t be sorry; be forgiven. Confess to God in repentance and accept His grace and forgiveness. Here’s what God says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NKJV. Get rid of sin quickly before it corrupts your future. Denying sin doesn’t change you; confessing does! Confessing is not about telling God what you’ve done; He already knows that. Confessing is telling God that you know you were wrong and asking forgiveness; that releases forgiveness and cleansing, and restores relationship. Ever wonder why they say, “Confession is good for the soul?” Because it is!

Hours before the crucifixion, Peter warmed himself beside a fire where he denied knowing Jesus. Days after the resurrection, he stood beside a far different fire to affirm his love for Jesus. Read John 21:15-17 NIV. I read this marvelous quote, “When your tears of repentance meet Christ’s forgiveness, you lose guilt and find new joy!”

The accuser of your soul will tell you that your sin is too bad or it’s too late, but he is lying to you and your guilt makes you believe his lie. It’s never too late for God’s forgiveness, unless you believe it’s too late.

My prayer for you today is: do not be willing to live a moment apart from God’s grace.

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Overnight Success

December 10th, 2010

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10 NIV

“Success and achievement are not synonymous; success follows achievement.”

My thoughts today are about “overnight success.”

Everyone wants to start at the top. You might hope for the big and important opportunities first, but that is not how life works. You may look at the ease with which someone does their job so successfully, and assume that you could do it just as easily.

But you do not know all that prepared them to succeed, how long they worked to develop their skills, the struggles and mistakes and resulting lessons learned, the life experience that prepared them, the small responsibilities in which they proved themselves along the way. And when their opportunity came, they were ready for it. Every “overnight success” takes a long time coming.

More often than not, people who enjoy too quick a promotion and success usually don’t handle it well, or enjoy it long. They haven’t been carefully schooled and prepared. They seldom have had time to learn to handle promotion. Mistakenly, a person can think it is all about what they alone have done, instead of what really happens – people along the way see potential and purpose, and in kindness and generosity gave opportunities to succeed.

As I look back across my life, anything that I have been allowed to do or become has been the direct result of the grace of God and the graciousness of a lot of people toward me. I have given the effort, but others have given their help.

Don’t confuse success and achievement. Everyone wants success with all its benefits, privileges and rewards they see others enjoy. But true success only follows achievement, and that takes time and requires hard work. The world and its culture prize the product more than the process. Achievement requires that you reach for it with diligence, sacrifice, and much effort, but success comes because you are ready for it.

Be careful and be wise. Success can result in ultimate failure. It can subtly corrupt your values and cloud your judgment, making you proud when you should be humble or greedy when you should be generous. Hold it gratefully and lightly; use it wisely.

Achievement and success begin right now with what you have. Jesus taught, “If you have not been faithful in that which is least, you will not be faithful in that which is much. If you have not been faithful with riches, who will give you true wealth? If you have not been faithful in what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?” Luke 16:10-12. Be faithful; it’s the little things you do today that are preparing you for the bigger things to come. Success may seem to come overnight, but it was built upon every achievement made along the way.

My prayer for you today is that you will be trusted and blessed with God’s best.

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This Is Your Life

December 9th, 2010

“It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time.” Proverbs 15:23 NLT

Your own testimony creates a narrative telling the story of your life – past, present, and future.”

My thoughts today announce “this is your life!”

An author takes an idea, turns his idea into words and with those words can create a new world for both the writer and reader, taking minds and imaginations to places they’ve never before been, while creating a sense of adventure not otherwise experienced.

As a young teen, I found a world of adventure in literature, among which was Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Treasure Island, about Long John Silver and “a treasure map, pirates and buried gold.” I was captured by Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, whose opening became the classic lines, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” and his novel about the French Revolution closed with the cryptic words of Sydney Carton nobly giving his life to save another’s, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Words hold the power to create a world of historical fact or wondrous imagination in many ways – in a well-written book, unforgettable melody and lyrics, captivating movie, riveting speech, or passionate sermon. Yesterday, I wrote about an idea that continues to intrigue me: “Words create worlds.” I am interested in how such a true, Biblical principle works in yours and my everyday life.

It all began with a word. “God said,Let there be . . and there was’. . By faith, we understand that worlds were framed by the word of God . . In the beginning was the Word . . all things were made by Him!” See Genesis 1/Hebrews 12:3 NKJV/John 1:1-3 NKJV. Abraham discovered God “Who gives life to the dead and calls those things that are not as though they were.” And he believed and confessed, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Read Romans 4:17-21 NIV.

That, in a lesser but real measure, is a God-given potential in you as well, a dynamic of everyday life. Your own testimony creates a narrative telling the accurate or inaccurate story of your life – past, present, and future. Words spoken with conviction affirm your potential in God, or can confirm your disbelief of what God believes and says about you. Your world is daily shaped by how you translate events currently impacting you, as well as conclusions you’ve assumed from circumstances long before. Your world would be better shaped by speaking God’s words to you and about you. “It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time.” Proverbs 15:23 NLT.

What you say to yourself – self-talk, psychologists call this – and what you say to others about yourself subtly influences who you believe you are and the measure of what you believe you can do and become. Your words merely confirm your belief of thoughts that elevate or demean, then reinforcing emotions helpful or unhealthy. By voicing again and again what you think to be true but isn’t, you could allow your wrong perceptions to become assumed realities. When you truthfully affirm your strengths, abilities, and successes, you gradually grow in them. If you continually bemoan your shortcomings, weaknesses, or failures without taking real steps to change and grow, you will persistently self-destruct, however slowly. See James 3:9-10 NIV.

So how do you form a better world in which to live each day? The life you create starts with feelings such as hope, trust, and joy, or worry, doubt, and fear. The first edify and strengthen; the latter dishearten and weaken; you hold the power to choose between those – power to change every day and shape tomorrow.

My prayer for you today is that you respect the inherent power of God in your words.

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Words Create Worlds

December 8th, 2010

“The lips of the Godly speak helpful words.” Proverbs 10:32 NLT

Words create worlds in our hearts and minds more real than the one in which we live.”

My thoughts today are that “words create worlds.”

Helpful; that’s what you want to be, isn’t it? Why not start with the simplest thing you do everyday, and do most of every day? “The lips of the Godly speak helpful words.” Proverbs 10:32 NLT. Your words have unequaled power to be helpful or hurtful.

My friend, Andrew, recently said to me, “Words create worlds in our hearts and minds more real than the one in which we live.” That being true, use them well and speak them wisely! Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you bring God’s life-giving spirit.” John 6:63 TEV. Words create a world around you that is better, or worse; you choose which.

Words arouse love, or words can foment hate. Words inspire virtue, or words also soil the soul. Words can heal, or words can wound deeply. Entire nations have been stirred to unmatched courage and sacrifice, as was Great Britain by the eloquence of Sir Winston Churchill; and nations have been driven to unconscionable evil and cruelty, as was Nazi Germany by the ranting of Adolph Hitler. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21 NKJV.

Growing up in southern Illinois, I often heard my Mom say, “If you can’t say something good, it’s better not to say anything at all.” Many years later, life has taught me that she was right. Have you ever said something that you wish you hadn’t? I think the answer for any one of us would have to be a resounding, “Yes.”

Maybe you remember a time you spoke angry, hurtful words, feeling justified at the moment but regretted later. Maybe you launched an unfounded accusation, which you found to be inaccurate soon after doing so. Or maybe you passed on hurtful information about someone that turned out not as true as you had believed it to be. Imagine how much better you would feel, if you just hadn’t said anything at all.

There have been times when I have regretted what I haven’t said, when I could and should have expressed thankfulness, or given a compliment, or offered an explanation, or spoken praise for a job well done. But there are many more times that I wish I hadn’t said what I did, or would not have said things when, and how, and to whom I chose to say them. It is good to learn that everything you think, and every time you feel like saying what you think, is not necessarily the right thing to do, or the best way or time to do so. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Paul established wise guidelines for Godly relationships that apply well to your conversations, “You can say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is helpful. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is beneficial. Don’t think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NLT.

From those  verses you can learn: speak words that are helpful to others, not hurtful. “Let your conversation be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NIV; speak words that are beneficial, not detrimental. “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.” Proverbs 15:4 The Message; speak words that are best, not worst. “Use . . only helpful words, that kind that build up, so that what you say will do good for those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29 TEV. Your words should make others feel better, not yourself. The supreme guideline? See Psalm 19:14 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that your words speak well of yourself and your faith.

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