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Archive for June, 2018

Finishing Strong

June 26th, 2018

Anyone can start. Only the determined finish.

”I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Finishing Strong.”

Life is a marathon, not a sprint – a competitive race, not a casual run. The Bible says, “Those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize].” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJ. Finish strong. There will be the Father’s acknowledgment,  “well done,” and a crown of righteousness awaiting you.

Life is best lived when you are moving forward, neither slow nor still. In every season of life, it is important to remember that you are never too young or old to tackle a new challenge. Aging is inevitable. Old is optional. Old is more about a diminishing vision than the number of your years. Solomon warned, “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraints.” Proverbs 29:18. Keep your vision clear, your purpose consistent, and your eyes fixed on God. Whatever your age or circumstance, choose to finish strong.

Caleb was a contemporary of Joshua. Read Numbers 13:26-33 / Joshua 14:6-14. Caleb’s path was straight ahead with faith and spiritual vigor. He served with a Godly momentum, continuing strong in his confidence of the Lord who had the character and power to keep His Word, whatever the passing of time or size of the challenge.

Because the passage of time did not change God, Caleb would not let his age change his faith nor lessen his endeavors. “As the Lord promised . . here I am today, eighty-five years old! . . I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Read Joshua 14:10-12 NIV. That is how you finish strong. Caleb chose to live, not accommodating the obstacle before him but by the God who was inside him.

As was the faith of those Old Testament examples, the Apostle Paul kept his eyes focused straight ahead, “One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NIV. Keep your eyes on the goal. Finish strong.

Live in a manner that dedicates to a Godly focus, commits to a worthwhile purpose, and contributes to the well-being of others. At any age, young or old, everyone has something to contribute that can be beneficial to others. To Timothy, his young protégé, Paul assessed his own journey with anticipation, “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJ. Paul finished strong. What a Godly example for Timothy, the young minister. Anyone can start. Only the determined finish.

Live life every day moving forward in faith and obedience. Going somewhere. Accomplishing something. Making a difference. Building on successes. Benefiting from failures. Excelling today. Building for tomorrows.

Foolishly and frequently unrecognized, some people squander their years, energies, and their life on careers, hobbies, or recreation to the unintended and unrecognized neglect of their soul, as well as things important to their joy and accomplishment – such as family, friendships, and serving the Lord by serving others.

The Apostle Paul’s heart was committed to life in its fullness. His clarity of purpose and priority was fixed. “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News.” Acts 20:24 NLT. Along the way, his goal was to live every day until his last day with a growing and Godly momentum – to finish his assignment and fulfill his ministry. Is that the way you live for God today, and will you purpose to do so every day?

Paul summarized his life, “The time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to me on that day – and to all who love His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJ. No time wasted. No effort spared.

I want to live that way. I don’t want to finish in a rocking chair. I want to finish with a flourish, full of faith, fully engaged in life, with steadfast purpose and clear-eyed focus. I don’t want to stand before Jesus with need for apology or regret. I may not set a world record as the fastest or best, but I want to be accelerating when I cross the finish line. How you live every day has everything to do with finishing strong.

My prayer for you today is to give life your best, in His strength, until He comes.

Christian Communications 2018

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Origin and Purpose

June 20th, 2018

GOD’S APPROVAL EXCEEDS MAN’S APPLAUSE.

“THERE WAS A MAN SENT FROM GOD.” John 1:6 NKJV

 

MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS TODAY ARE ABOUT, ORIGIN AND PURPOSE.”

Every person needs a healthy, holy sense of their origin and purpose. When either is lacking the other is diminished. Origin is where your journey begins. And your journey truly begins when you submit yourself to God’s will. Purpose defines, directs, and enables you to accomplish the will of God throughout your life. Solomon observed that, “Without a vision people cast off restraints.” Proverbs 29:18. When you lessen the vision of your future, your achievement in life is diminished as well.

I am intrigued by the Bible’s unvarnished introduction of John the Baptist. The Bible simply says of him, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John 1:6 NKJV. There is much that could be said of John in tribute. His birth was miraculous. His life was exemplary. His death was for righteousness. His ministry and words pricked the heart of a generation. His Godliness convicted a King. His preaching angered a queen, who sought his life and succeeded.

Jesus was a cousin of John, and said of him, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11 NIV. Never before. Never after. Take a moment to consider Jesus’ endorsement of John, a tribute of highest praise. John walked a clear and certain path while his peers lived by whim. John stood out from the crowd, because he sought the approval of God more than the applause of men.

What made John outstanding in his generation? What put the manly resolve in him to stand fast and stay true to God’s plan for his life? Reading his story in Scripture, his ministry was prophesied, and his life’s assignment given before his birth. He was an ascetic, calling a nation to repentance, for a few years receiving surprising popularity while preaching repentance and baptizing converts along the Jordan River. His calling and purpose were to prepare the way for Messiah, and he had the joy of baptizing Jesus in the Jordan, being the first to publicly announce, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” See John 1:29-34 NKJV.

John’s origin was miraculous, specifically ordained of God and announced to his aged, childless parents by an angel. Read Luke 1:5-25 NIV. John was an impossibility by every natural means. Above all else that could be said of him are words that grip my heart and capture my fascination. The Bible simply says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” His origin was supernatural, not natural. His origin defined his purpose, as does yours.

At salvation, Jesus chose you for a purpose. “He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ.” Read Ephesians 1:7-9 NIV. The Apostle Paul had much to say about purpose.And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:28-30 NIV. That is motivating, liberating truth.

Your purpose is to be a little more like Jesus every day. How does that happen? You learn His Word. You welcome the Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart. You walk in obedience to God’s Word and will. The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to continually conform you and me into a growing likeness of Jesus.

As truly as was said of John, in Heaven the same is said of you, “There was a man – or woman – that was sent from God, whose name was (insert your name here).”

Today I pray for you to know you are chosen and sent by God.

Christian Communications 2018

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Devotionals

Loving Discourse Lessens Discord

June 12th, 2018

Communication enables mutual understanding.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

My thoughts and comments today consider that, “loving discourse lessens discord.”   

Kind and sincere communication is a gift that we give to one another. Communication connects and unifies people. I love a simple, beautiful verse: “Grace is poured upon Your lips.” Psalm 45:2 NKJV. What would your life and relationships look like if grace poured from your lips? Loving discourse lessens discord. In contrast, our world is so torn because individuals persist in being right, however high the price is paid in their dearest relationships. Whether in a marriage, family, friendship, or church, the relationship is left the victim when loving communication breaks down.

Sadly and widely, both public and private discourse seem course today, evidencing less and less grace. Why do we choose dispute over concurrence? Conversations are essential for social interactions and profitable commerce. Communication enables effective collaboration to bring about mutually beneficial understandings. The interaction that communication requires is not optional. Sincere and meaningful communication offers significant benefits such as: proper discourse unifies people, decides purpose, defines progress, and produces greater achievements. Real community is possible only to the extent or limitation of real discussions.

Language is a gift, possessing the power to unite or divide us. A wise person considers their words. Words have potential for good or ill, can help or hurt, heal or wound, increase understanding or create confusion. Your words are always within your authority to speak or remain silent. Speak after forethought and prayerful reflection. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” Proverbs 15:1-2 NIV.

With clarity and authority, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Read Proverbs 4:20-24 NIV. Ask yourself, “Are my words honestly intended, edifying to others, and glorifying to God.”

With King David, we should pray from our heart that our words and thoughts would be these, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. And how can we keep our words and thoughts pleasing in the sight of God and others? Pray as David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV.

Today I pray for you to choose your words to always be both true and kind.

Christian Communications 2018

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Waiting, Watching, and Ready

June 6th, 2018

Christ Will Come as He Promised.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”  Matthew 24:42

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Waiting, Watching, and Ready.”

Imagine issuing a grand invitation to many friends but when your invited guests arrived, they found you awkwardly unprepared. As your guests would feel less welcome, you would feel embarrassed. For some, Christ’s return for believers will be like that. Whether  prepared or not, He will return. And of that day, Jesus warned, “At the coming of the Son of Man, don’t let Him find you sleeping when He arrives without warning. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch for My return. Read Mark 13:34-37. When Christ returns you will not go up then, unless you wake up now.

God’s Word promises that Christ will give, “a crown of righteousness . . to those who have loved His appearing” 2 Timothy 4:8. On that day, the issue will not be about any differences about theological projections of when Christ will return for Christians. When He does, Then the Angel will declare for all the world to hear, “There shall be time no longer.” Revelation 10:6. Whatever your understanding of the things surrounding Jesus’ return in the calendar of Biblical events, this is certain. Christ will come as He promised. Of this the Bible faithfully testifies.

The real issue is whether you and I will be ready, or surprised and unprepared. The essential answer to that is that at this moment of eternal consequence we are found trusting Christ alone for our salvation and eagerly anticipating His return. “So, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation” Hebrews 9:28.

Are you looking for Him with joyful anticipation? “When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4. Do not be careless or doubting. Because Christ has not yet come does not mean that He will not come. It only means that the day is that much closer. Any day and any time, our Savior and Lord will return for those who are ready when He appears. This is wise advice, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42 NIV.

On that day, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:42 NIV. What a day that will be. And that day will be as Heaven has promised for those who are prepared, as well as for those who were forewarned but not ready.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to be waiting, watching, and ready.

Christian Communications 2018

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