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Archive for September, 2018

Applause and Acclaim

September 27th, 2018

Appreciation fuels achievement.

Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Applause and Acclaim.”

Few things are more satisfying than compliments for something that you have done, and done well. Hollywood, Broadway, and Nashville give numerous awards for entertainers in movies, television, videos, stage, and most genres of music. Outside of entertainment, there is the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding public service and achievement in American journalism, letters, and music. The prestigious Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for significant political and international  achievement. As children thrive in the acceptance and approval of others, people of any age respond to sincere recognition of their achievements.

Praise and appreciation fuels achievement for one and all, from children to adults. Parents accomplish that with their approving words, proud smiles, and physical hugs that recognition. Bosses do that with awards, plaques, certificates, bonuses, or raises. Any award seems to mean more when the person or group giving recognition means the most to you. A stranger’s compliment may be flattering, but fleeting. A friend’s praise is a joy forever cherished forever in your heart.

I am not sure there would be any little league teams if Mom and Dad were not in the stands cheering and claiming, “that’s my child.” Children don’t yet play for the love of the game; they play for the cheers and congratulations of their parents and coaches. Some years ago, when our children were young, my stepfather, a wise man, gave me great parenting advice. He said, “To be mentally and emotionally healthy, every child needs a generous number of ‘atta boys’ every day.” If your children don’t hear praise and encouragement from you, they will seek encouragement elsewhere and embrace others’ flattery as an acceptable substitute. Flattery is nothing more than sugar-coated deception.

Let me add a small word of caution. The need for sincere applause and public acclaim can become seductive, even addictive, feeding one’s ego and pride rather than inspiring better efforts and greater accomplishments. Your best work and deepest satisfaction comes when you find abiding joy in knowing you offered your best and God is pleased, whether noticed by others or not.

The Bible offers a warning. Jesus cautioned those who, “loved the praise (and approval) from men more than the praise (and approval) from God.” John 12:43 NIV/NAS.  However great the applause and recognition of others might be, you will find no greater satisfaction than at the moment you finally stand before God and hear the Savior’s words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful . . enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV. May your entrance be grand and may you be welcomed by the applause of Heaven. At that moment, every earthly tribute and trophy will pale in comparison. Always and only, live on earth with Heaven in mind.

When all else is finally said and done, the sole opinion that will ultimately matter is the Lord’s evaluation. Paul gave Godly counsel in all that you do, Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do.” Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV. Don’t accept any distinction between the sacred and the secular. All you do for the cause and name of Christ is holy in God’s eyes.

Today I pray for you to never require the crowd’s faint applause or fading acclaim.

Christian Communications 2018-9299

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Beware of Temptation

September 19th, 2018

Temptation Is a Doorway to Regrets.

“One who perseveres under temptation will receive the crown of life.” James 1:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are that you, “Beware of Temptation.”

Days earlier, Gayle and I were having a late lunch at an oriental restaurant. I enjoy fortune cookies for their flavor, not so much for their advice. Occasionally, I am amused by a clever insight about life contained inside a fortune cookie. This was one of those times. What I read made me ponder. “Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.” Those few words were worth the cost of the meal. Know this. Temptation parades in the disguise of an irresistible opportunity. How often have we all been misled and tempted, and to our eventual regret, have embraced a temptation that we incorrectly saw as an opportunity.

Be wary of temptation. Temptation lures you to places unprofitable to be, takes you further than you expected to go, and can cost you more than you can afford to pay. Paul was concerned when he wrote about people being led astray, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV.

Because you are offered something, or want to do something, or can do something doesn’t mean you should. The Bible is filled with examples of those who lacked self-control: Satan himself, Adam and Eve, Samson, Jacob, Esau, Saul, Demas, and a host of others stretching from then to now.

As always, the Bible offers guidance and encouragement when temptation exposes its strength and source. God’s Word is clear. “No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man. And God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:12-13. NIV. Yes, God is faithful. Self-control is a virtue, and a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23.

It is wiser and far better to seek an exit from a temptation in the guise of an opportunity. Don’t look for a way in. Look for the way out.Blessed is the one who perseveres under temptation because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV.

But there is good news. Others like Joseph, who at the cost of prison, fled from the allure of his master’s wife rather than defile himself and his God. The supreme example is Jesus, who when tempted to circumvent the cross, refused to succumb to such a temptation. Read Matthew 16:21-26 NKJV.

Because you want something, and what you want is available to you, should not be an indication that what you want is best for you. Reflect on that for a few moments. I expect that we have all made that mistake and always to our regret. Know this.”‘ When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.” Read James 1:13-15 NIV.

If we were not commonly vulnerable to temptations due to our fallen nature, there would have been no necessity and priority for Jesus to teach His disciples, as well as us, to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13 NAS. Temptation is always a doorway to regrets.

It appears to me that Jesus’ concern for us was and remains primary, rather than secondary. Temptation is an intruder because our common enemy, the devil, is the Tempter. Wisely, we are cautioned, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!” Matthew 26:41 NLT.

Even Jesus was tempted by Satan, until He commanded that enemy, “Get behind Me, Satan.” From where did Satan, that evil Tempter, come? Read Genesis 3:1-3 NIV. His tragic story of rebellion, disobedience, and deceit began long before the Garden of Eden, when and where the devil tempted Eve to ignore God’s clear instruction, who in turn tempted Adam, to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Adam and Eve were lured by the false promise that, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” See Genesis 3:4-8. Temptation never turns out well. Too late, they both learned more about, “good and evil,” than they ever wanted or needed to know. Obedience is better than curiosity.

Pride exposes you to temptation, while deceiving you to believe that you are invulnerable to it. The Apostle Paul was concerned for the Corinthian Christians, and his concern is relevant to us, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV.

Here is the great news! “God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13. NIV.

Today I pray for you to live free of regrets.

Christian Communications 2018

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Whatever It Takes

September 7th, 2018

The Best of Your Past Is the Boost To Your Future.

“Then David chose five smooth stones from the stream.”

1 Samuel 17:40 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, whatever it takes.

Who doesn’t enjoy the story of David and Goliath. Read 1 Samuel 17:45-51 NKJ. Against all odds, David achieved a monumental victory. Who doesn’t love a story like that? Would you be helped if you knew what David knew? Well, actually you can. It would be easier if there were just one secret that could be uncovered and applied. Presto, and like magic you could have every success that you ever wanted. But life doesn’t work that way, does it? There is no single key to success, but there are practical elements for victory and achievement.

The Bible records the story of a young, shepherd boy and his encounter with a fearsome, angry warrior of giant stature. And then the Bible adds a small and seemingly irrelevant detail, except it is not. “Then David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV. Let me share five truths that accomplish victories.

The first truth. Remember every victory. Let the best of your past be the boost for your future. David reasoned, “God who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37.  Different situation. Same God. Be careful, your focus may well determine your direction and expectation; make sure those move you upward and onward.

The second truth. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small, and use it as a confidence booster for the future. Read Psalm 78:1-7 NIV. And never forget your previous successes, so you can be encouraged and build on them. Understanding those is key to not repeating the same mistakes.  People are usually prone to do just the opposite. Never dwell on your failures, except to learn from them.

Do not  allow a previous or momentary disappointment to discourage you from trying again. You may find yourself recalling every painful and trivial detail of past failures, while discounting every triumph God helped you to achieve. Rehearsing disappointments and failures over and over will not alter them. Remembering past victories strengthens expectation and reinforces resolve.

The third truth. Concern yourself with God’s honor more than your reputation. Like everything else in your life, success is not about you, nor your enrichment or acclaim. Success occurs when you bring glory to God’s name and nature. David declared to Goliath, “I come to you in the Name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied.” See 1 Samuel 17:45-47.

The fourth truth. Success does not come to those content to watch from the sidelines. See 1 Samuel 17:24-25. When others would not, David was willing to join the battle. He was impassioned even indignant, “Who is this that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . Is there not a cause?” See 1 Samuel 17:26/29. He became personally involved. Success does not come to you until you set yourself for success.

The fifth truth. Never give up short of your goal or God’s promise. I have read this statement, “Success is about 10% ability and good fortune, and about 90% perseverance.” You have what it takes, and God will give you what you need, when you persevere. Someone has observed, “It seems that the harder I work, the more fortunate I become.” What often seems like an overnight success story usually involves a history of effort, assurance, and especially perseverance.

Ever wondered why David selected five stones, or why the Holy Spirit included that seemingly irrelevant reference? Apart from God and against a fearsome giant, five stones are not all that more confidence building than just one. The Bible does not really answer that question for you, which allows me to consider why David might have done that. Here is my assumption. If you are serious about succeeding, you will choose more than one way to accomplish your success.

Choose the attitude that says, “Whatever it takes!” Maybe David chose five stones because he didn’t know which stone God would direct to its mark. He just knew that Goliath was no match for his God. David gave God whatever he had at his disposal, with persuasion that God would take care of the Goliath in his path. Your God will do the same for the obstructions in your path.

Today I pray for you to know God has everything you need for victory.

Christian Communications 2018-(09507 keys to success)

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