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Posts Tagged ‘3 John 2’

The Law of Return

February 13th, 2018

Life is reciprocal.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

 My thoughts and comments today are about, “the law of return.”

Life is not random, even though it occasionally appears to be. Life is reciprocal. It is important that you understand, “The Law of Return.” The principle is rather simple, but applies either positively or negatively. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed . . He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” Proverbs 11:24-27 NIV. What is not to understand? God’s heart and desire were clear to the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. God’s promises are fulfilled within the measure of your obedience.

Let me state the principle simply and in a practical way. You get what you give, not what you want or demand. What you do not give first you will not receive except as charity, however much you expect or insist otherwise. When you do the right things in the right way, the Creator’s loving touch and generosity can be seen everywhere. In far more instances than the exceptions, good things happen to people who do good things for others. That is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Good deeds reproduce good deeds. Good will responds to good will. Kind words are the response from kind words. Generosity creates gratitude. Conversely, inappropriate actions or unworthy attitudes result in a similar return. Be an example, a good one. Whatever you expect of others, demand even more of yourself. You are wise to heed the warning of God’s Word, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

Life is not as you deem it to be, or wish that it were. Life is established on God’s terms, and works accordingly. You might muscle your will and way for a while, but inevitably and ultimately life works the way the Creator determined it should. As in the beginning, God has spoken over His creation, “Let there be, and there was.” That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be. God established eternal laws and principles by which His world works.

Foolishly and to minimal or temporary effect, you and I may try to force life to work the way we would prefer, but all efforts which are contrary to His Word, will, and wisdom, are eventually to little avail. Your lasting success, enduring satisfaction, and eternal reward depend on your learning God’s ways and cooperating with those. Isaiah was clear when He echoed God’s declaration, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways..’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV. It is foolish pride to think that any of us are wiser than God, even in the matters of our own daily life.

Jesus stated the truth simply, practically, and clearly. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV. That has often been referred to as the Golden Rule. The principle of return works for your good or to your loss, depending on how you choose to cooperate with its practical truth. “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

And Jesus identifies Himself with others,“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45 NIV. Our regard, or lack of regard, for others impacts what God is able to do for us. That too is the Law of Return. God’s Word is true and His provision is unfailing, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

My prayer for you and those who follow your example is, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord.” Psalm 115:14-15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for your life to abound with God’s grace and benevolence.

Christian Communications 2018

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Saved and You Know It

February 6th, 2018

God made salvation simple and certain; confess and believe.

 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

My thoughts and comments today are about, “saved and you know it.”

As a child I learned a simple truth from a few words in a children’s song, “If you’re saved and you know it, then your life will surely show it. If you’re saved and you know it, say Amen.” Matters of eternal salvation must not be left to speculation.

On this matter, you cannot afford to be wrong. The Bible is clear, “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the son does not have life. These things have I written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:12-13 NIV.

There are many people, good people, who have wrongly assumed that being good is all that is required to go to Heaven. They have trusted in their good works, such as: being moral, honest, good neighbors, charitable, or religious, but according to the Bible those are just not good enough. I recall someone observing that, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage can make you a car.” The Bible is clear. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.

How good is good enough? How many good works make you good enough for Heaven? Would God be fair and just if He left anything as important as your eternal soul to personal assumption or speculation? If I asked you, “What are you trusting right now to allow you into Heaven?” How would you answer? People offer diverse but wrong answers to such a simple question. But it is not what you think that matters, or sincerely believe, or prefer the answer would be, nor anyone else’s opinion that will make Heaven certain as your eternal home.

There is one standard alone for every person in every generation and nation, and that single standard is God’s Word. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. Who else could you trust to make this eternally consequential matter clear and specific for you? Exclusive? Unfair?

Some people may think so, but a single standard is inclusive, both equally fair and just to one and all. If it will not be adjusted to include someone who fails to meet that righteous standard, then neither could it be adjusted to exclude someone who does. Anyone who accepts God’s Son as their Savior can and will be included – whatever their nationality, language, origin of birth, personal history, or circumstance of life.

The Apostle Paul’s words were unequivocal, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” Romans 10:13 NKJV. No wonder it is called the Good News. No one – absolutely no one – can or will be refused. Here is the simple answer from God’s Word. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’” Romans 10:9-11 NLT. It is important that you know how to make Heaven your eternal home. God made salvation simple and certain. Confess and believe.

In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the word for confess – homologeo – literally means, “to say the same thing as.” The Bible is clear, certain, and unalterable, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. When from your heart, you say the same things about your sins that God says, about Jesus dying on the cross as redemption for your sins, and inviting Jesus to be your Savior, you receive complete forgiveness and confidence to embrace His promise of eternal salvation. God’s promise is specific and sure.

Here is how you are saved. Ask Jesus to forgive every disobedience and sin, place your faith and trust in Him as your Savior, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s confirming whisper in your heart that you are His and He is yours. Then believe and rejoice that God has done exactly what He promised He would do. You experience no greater joy than knowing your sins are forgiven forever. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NKJV. God will forget your sins. He will never forget you.

The Gospel is simple, clear, certain, true, and powerful to save. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-18 NIV.

Reading that phrase, “to save the world though Him,” are you amazed by the expansive scale and global scope of God’s heart and eternal agenda for the whole world? His love, grace, and passion was and remains as broad as to transform every nation, as far reaching as to redeem every generation, and yet as specific and personal as to redeem each single individual – “to save the world though Him.”

I love the sentiment of the aging apostle John when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 2 NIV. That is my sentiment, my joy, and my prayer for you.

Today, I pray for you to be certain about your salvation, never leaving eternity to chance.

Christian Communications 2018-307

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Success with Satisfaction

October 27th, 2017

Satisfaction is measured by accomplishment not reward.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Success with Satisfaction.”

God created you to succeed. And that should be your goal. A desire to succeed is common to the human heart. No one makes plans to fail but many fail to plan. But first, you need to know how you define success? Without that, how do you even measure success? It is important that you determine your personal definition of success and that should be founded on God’s Word. If you don’t have benchmarks for measuring achievement, how will you know when you accomplish it, or recognize when you fail to do so? It is tragic to allow other people’s opinions to dictate what true success should be for you.

You will invest a lifetime of effort and energy to achieve fulfillment and meaning. A good  question to ask yourself is, “When I get where I’m going and have what I’m wanting, where will I be and what will I have?” Too many people end up with full pockets but have an empty heart. Solomon offered sage advice, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV. Success with satisfaction begins in your heart.

Will wealth and possessions be your proof of success? The applause or acclaim of others? Some time ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said. “At the end, the one with the most toys wins!” But do they? True success must be so much more than having the biggest pile of unnecessary stuff. God’s Word says, “Each one should be careful how he builds. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is. The fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV. Eternal values differ immensely from what the world values.

I think that satisfaction, and contentment with what you achieve, is a more reliable measurement of success than the weight of public opinion or the tangible and external rewards of one’s accomplishments. Success without satisfaction is a myth. Where you find your supreme fulfillment is where you will find your greater success.

“[Blessed is the man who is] like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Read Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. What a great promise! For me, the arenas where I intend to succeed, find satisfaction, and most prize any success are in the opportunities and responsibilities of family, friends, and ministry.

As regards Family, I will evaluate success by the Godly fruit to be found in our children and grandchildren, and the generations who will follow them. I will measure the faith and values we hold in common, the times we love and enjoy one another’s company, and our family’s continued love and service for the Lord. However anyone else chooses to evaluate my success, our family is central to my definition of success or disappointment.

As regards friends, life is richer because of the example, encouragement, and fellowship of friends who share life and faith with you. Life can be lonely, even unfulfilling without people who gladly share your joys and sorrows.

As regards ministry, I choose to evaluate success based on obedience and faithfulness to God’s call and meaningful service to God’s people. I am grateful for whatever measure of outward success that we have experienced these fifty plus years of pastoral ministry, but in my heart, I know that whatever success might be attributed to us, God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been its true source.

So, I will thank God, my family, and friends, and celebrate every year of blessing and privilege extended to us. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Read Galatians 6:8-10 NIV. My prayer for you encompasses all you are and all you do.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. It all starts in in your heart of hearts where, “your soul prospers.”

Today, I pray for you to not waste time on empty dreams but instead pursue God’s will.

Christian Communications 2017

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Health and Holiness

March 23rd, 2017

Care about eternal matters more than temporal

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health.”

3 John 2 NAS

My thoughts and comments today are about, “health and holiness.”

Recently, I had my Annual Wellness Checkup, as it was called by the doctor. It was overdue but ultimately reassuring. The practical wisdom of being more health conscious is undeniable, especially as you add years and miles. Living a healthier lifestyle by eating properly, exercising regularly, managing your weight, reducing stress and worry, getting enough rest, and having a medical check-up periodically makes good sense. You are wise to take care of your body. Doing so is a personal investment in your continued well-being and length of life. And I recommend, you are wise to take care of your soul.

Spiritual health impacts physical wellbeing. Deliberately attending to matters that contribute to your spiritual health and well-being is wise. John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NAS.  It is incongruous to prioritize your physical health which only benefits your lifetime, yet neglect your spiritual health which impacts eternity.  

Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Bodily exercise profits a little, but Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. Jesus’ question was direct, “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Mark 8:36-37 NLT. The question is clear; the answer is obvious.

Here are my practical suggestions for a Spiritual Wellness Checkup. What you need most is a good report from the Great Physician and Savior of man’s soul. Keep your mind clean and clear, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV. Walk in faith, “For it is impossible to please God without faith.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

Live gratefully, “In everything give thanks, this is the will of God concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV. Forgive generously; “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 NKJV. Pray instead of worry; “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6 NLT.

Choose trust above understanding; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not upon your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NKJV. Practice faithfulness for, “It is required of a steward that he is found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV. Pray frequently and fervently. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT. God’s Word is proven and productive for health and holiness. “Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to value and hold fast that which is eternal.

Christian Communications 2017

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Success with Satisfaction

January 22nd, 2016

“Our only power and success come from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT.

Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success with satisfaction.”

Success is a more complex subject than might first be assumed. Sir Winston Churchill captured the process as, “moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Ultimately, success requires an untiring enthusiasm and expectation. Let success be your goal, but make satisfaction your measurement of success.

Success is a common, even innate, desire of the human spirit. God wills your success. About that fact, the Bible is clear. “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NASB. God wills you to enjoy financial sufficiency, ample health and strength, measured by a singular standard, “as your soul prospers.” “Our only power and success come from God.” Read 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 TLB. Apart from the spiritual dimension, whatever measure of success you achieve will be unsatisfactory. Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

Do not let the world around you dictate what success is for you. The apparent success of others may mislead you into assuming your success will look like theirs. The Bible warned, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV. The world measures success by tangible acquisitions, notable achievements, popular approval, others’ applause, or material gain. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT. The world’s standards are different from what God values.

You must decide to which you will give irreplaceable years of effort, energy, and expense. Establish your personal definition of success. Without Godly benchmarks for measuring, you may not know when you achieve it or recognize when you have not. Contentment and satisfaction with what you achieve is a more reliable measurement of success than the tangible rewards that result.

For me, where I find the greatest satisfaction and most prize any measure of “success” are family and ministry. I will count Gayle’s and my success by the fruit of our family’s lives, the faith and values we hold in common, enjoying and loving one another’s company, and our mutual love and service for the Lord and His Church. Our family is central to my definition of success with satisfaction.

As for ministry, I evaluate ministry on the twin bases of obedience and faithfulness to God’s call, having done what He asked and been faithful where He placed me. Honest appraisal reminds me that God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been the source of success.

Today, I pray for you to measure success by the satisfaction you find in doing God’s will.

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