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Archive for June, 2019

Practice Makes Perfect

June 27th, 2019

See Choices Clearly. Make Choices Wisely.

 “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things.” Philippians 4:9 NAS.

My thoughts and comments today are that, “practice makes perfect.”

It is commonly said that, “practice makes perfect.” Of course, that requires that your practice is improving. Athletes have their drills and practices. Musicians have their rehearsals. Students have their studies and exams. Marathoners have their conditioning runs. But the point of them all is the same for you in your pursuit of an authentic and growing spiritual life. To succeed in your spiritual life and growth, you must embrace the necessary spiritual disciplines.

Prayer, Bible reading, meditation on Scripture, obedience to truth, the discipline of fasting, meaningful fellowship, and developing a servant’s heart are essential practices. Doing the right thing each time does not come naturally or easily; it comes from desire, determination, and discipline. Practice is a recurring theme in Scripture. “Let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” Revelation 22:11 NAS.

No one really enjoys practice. You learn by doing, not once but again and again and again, until your knowledge and skill is so well practiced that it is predictably the same, becoming instinctive more than requiring conscious thought. But enjoyment is not the source of worthwhile accomplishment, nor the goal of life. Practice provides no thrill of victory because practice lacks the invigorating challenge of competition and the satisfying reward of achievement.

Meaningful practice is hard work, consisting of numbing repetition and deferred reward. A good coach requires more hours of practice by their team than game times, because they know the needed physical and mental conditioning that will be essential. In the pressure of the game situation, the endless drills during practices result in quicker reflexes and a game-winning edge that can make the difference between winning or losing.

For meaningful development and maturity, your spiritual life requires priority and systematic effort. Athletic games are not commonly won by a dramatic big play. They are won by what preceded and followed the big play. Success in the game is possible because of the stamina and skills acquired by the discipline of preparation and practice. A winning athlete is prepared to excel and put themselves and their team in the place for victory.

The Apostle Paul used the example of a committed athlete, as he wrote, “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control.” Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT. Whatever the endeavor, practice makes perfect.

The challenge that involves your life every day is much more consequential, both presently and eternally. The risk is great, the reward even greater. Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.” 1 Timothy 4:8 TEV. It is unfortunate when we expend considerable time and effort to things which matter so briefly.

You are being trained to make wise life choices accordingly, reliably, and consistently. Your well-being depends upon your success in doing so. In this, practice does make perfect. “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. Practice these things.

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. Your spiritual development demands practice that requires priority, diligence and determination.
Today I pray for you to keep your goal in focus and your efforts consistent.
EDL Communications 2019
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Devotionals

Eternity

June 24th, 2019

Disconnection Creates Discomfort.

”God has planted eternity in the human heart.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “eternity.”

Clocks and calendars rule our daily lives. Can you envision eternity, a time with a beginning but without a known end? Everything about our lives here and now is measured with minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and lifetimes.

We are such slaves of time that we cannot really envision the concept of forever. Forever seems an exaggeration, even an impossibility. Yet life as we know it will have an end. The Bible encourages awareness of the limits of time and the superseding importance and endless extent of eternity.

The Bible counsels you to pray, “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.” Psalm 90:12 TLB. Everything has a life span. As we experience time now, it is not an endless commodity. That is the reality for now. Solomon wisely observed, “there is a time to be born and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3:2 NIV.

If you experience the first, you will inevitably experience the latter. We all live within those narrow boundaries. But that will not be your reality in eternity. God intends so much more for you.

Have you read about the American Monarch Butterfly, maybe one of the most beautiful of its kind? Because they cannot survive the cold, they migrate up to 2,500 miles each year for their warm, winter hibernation. From west of the Rockies, they migrate every year to Pacific Grove, CA. When they migrate, oddly enough they return to the same California Eucalyptus trees each and every year, even though they are the fourth generation of the Monarch butterflies since the previous year’s migration.

Just as geese migrate south each winter, or salmon swim upstream to spawn where they were hatched, or swallows return to San Juan Capistrano in California from Argentina each March and return home in October, God has also put a permanent and eternal return address inside your spirit to guide you home to Him as well.

Solomon understood this when he wrote, “God has planted eternity in the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT. You and I were born with a longing for eternity in our hearts. We are created for unending fellowship with God, not separation from Him.

When you try to live apart from God, you will feel the discomfort of disconnection. And the devil blinds you from seeing the spiritual origin of your discontent. You cannot even imagine what it would be like to be apart from the Source of life forever? None of the horrors of Hell are worse than the absence and endless separation from God’s presence.

The Bible contrasts two kinds of people. There are those who know, love, and serve the Lord and those who do not. Which of those do you want to describe you? The Bible explains, “All [some people] think about is this life here on earth. But we are citizens of Heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior.” Read Philippians 3:19-21 NLT.

I love this quote; “The greatest calamity is not to feel far from home when you are, but to feel right at home when you’re not.” In the human spirit, God-placed a spiritual knowledge that this world is not your final home. Stop living like it is, settling in and making plans as though it were. Your eternal home is where you will truly experience what forever is all about.

In the beloved shepherd’s Psalm, David wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd . . I will live in the house of the Lord forever!” David did not think of, “the house of the Lord,” as a place; but with longing, he spoke of that as a special presence. Jesus described Heaven as, “In My Father’s house . . I go to prepare a place for you . . and I will receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3. See Psalm 27:3-4 NIV. You can forever be with God and others who look for His coming and long for His appearing. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV.

My prayer for you is to value eternity more than today.

EDL Communications 2019
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Devotionals

Setbacks

June 7th, 2019

Comebacks are optional.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for
which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“setbacks.”

Setbacks are inevitable. Comebacks are optional. Anyone can have a setback. Anyone could make a comeback, but not everyone will. Life offers you three options – backward, status quo, or forward. None of those are meant to be permanent. Progress is available for anyone who moves forward with deliberate intent, obedience, and trust. Setbacks and comebacks are options in the ebb and flow of everyday life. Life does not accommodate status quo very well. You won’t flourish long in the same place, unless you challenge and change the status quo.

You should never be content to stay where you are, nor remain who you are. God’s Word promises, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJ. You are either in a state of progress or regress. Strive to become what you could and should be in Christ. Recent history or present circumstances are not a reason for embracing inaction or determining future direction.

Paul encouraged, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:8-10 NIV. Comebacks are reserved for people that do not give up. Look to God and His Word with trust and optimism. If you think you can’t comeback from your mistake or failure, you won’t. If you believe you can in Christ, you will. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJ.

Your response to disappointment and your hope for possibilities ahead signify the direction you will choose. Choose to move forward deliberately, rather than fearfully staying put. Discouragement is more than a negative emotion. It is a paralysis of confidence and loss of conviction. Before David was King, there is a faith-building story of David and his soldiers returning from a victorious battle, only to find their city and homes decimated and their wives and children taken by an enemy. Imagine the setback. “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” But David chose a different path. He chose a glorious comeback. Read 1 Samuel 30 NKJ.

Regrettably, setbacks are a component of life that everyone will experience at one season or another. Yet there is great news. Every setback is an opportunity for a comeback. About comebacks, a friend taught me that you can’t think the same way and do the same things in the same ways, and still expect a different outcome.

Change your expectations. Choose your emotions. Learn from your failure or from what has gone awry and do what is necessary to find your path forward. The Apostle Paul captured the language and determination of Comeback, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 3:12-14.

Only Paul would say, “one thing I do,” and then explain that in four essential actions – forgetting the past, straining for what’s ahead, pressing to the goal, and winning the prize. And Paul’s anticipated prize was glorious. ”To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Read John 1:11-13 NIV. Heaven, and an eternity with Christ Jesus, await those who choose to prevail. In Christ, your comeback is glorious and unlimited.

Commit to achieve a more desirable outcome. Be one who perseveres. By its nature, life has unexpected twists and turns, and ups and downs. Expecting life to be otherwise is improbable. Learn that strength and determination grow best in adversity met with spiritual determination. Paul was confident, “For God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJ. What a powerful promise!

Today, I pray for you to be steadfast in faith and not lose heart.

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Devotionals