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Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “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 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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Goals

January 25th, 2017

A worthy goal is beyond your present abilities and fears

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

“I press on toward the goal . . for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

What could your life be if you cast aside the self-imposed limits? Never settle for a life too small. Life is an adventure for those with God alive within. It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try. But be sure your goals are God’s goals for you. A God-sized goal will be further than your reach, greater than your abilities, and bigger than your fears. In those, your personal satisfaction and success will be found.

You will never achieve your best without noble goals. Don’t waste time or resource with things that give you no pride of achievement. You will always have more potential than you have yet achieved. Yet goals alone do not insure success. Extraordinary achievement requires enthusiasm, energy, and exertion.

Joseph embraced goals that preceded his life and would extend well beyond it. He understood his unique place in history as well as destiny. As he prepared to die, he avowed, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . then you must carry my bones up from this place.” See Genesis 50:24-26/Exodus13:18-19 NIV. Joseph’s heart held a goal surpassing his ability to achieve and extending beyond his lifetime. In comparison, some of our miniscule goals seem embarrassingly small for God.

Reaching all your goals is not the highest achievement of success. If and when you have done that, life is sad rather than satisfying. That dubious accomplishment indicates that your goal was too small, yet you neglected to replace it with challenges grand enough to reach beyond your earlier successes. A goal should be like the horizon, envisioned in the distance, urging you onward, yet never becoming a settled destination.

In my earlier years, Kenny, a dear friend and encourager in my life and ministry, often challenged me, “Allen, it is better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a mountain, than to aim for a telephone pole and hit the top of a fence post.” His life-long conviction of that truth empowered him to believe God for blessing according to his efforts and beyond his abilities. Goals should be worthy of your supreme commitment, diligent effort, singular focus, and beyond what you can achieve without God and others. Godly goals encourage and empower you to accomplish more than you otherwise could.

Paul was neither impressed by his successes nor intimidated by failures. He learned from his past, but refused to live there. His singular goal was always before him. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life . . The one thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So, I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” Philippians 3:10-14 TEV. A God-sized goal is not achievable apart from God.

Today, I pray for you to dream big, plan well, and work hard to achieve your potential.

Christian Communications 2017

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Success and Satisfaction

April 24th, 2015

“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” Romans 12:6 NLT.

Nothing is more satisfying than a job well done
and for which you are well suited.

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

Imagine an orchestra with all the chairs empty, except for one lone instrumentalist. However skilled the musician, a single musician and musical instrument is not an orchestra. Their individual talent and best effort would be inadequate and the composer’s arrangement unrealized. Nor would any musician attempt to play all the instruments singlehandedly. Such an intent and effort may be commendable but their ambition and ability would be questionable.

My application is this: no one can do everything equally well; you’re neither equipped to do so nor expected. You will do some things better than other things and some things not well at all. Best that you learn the difference. But everyone can do something well; that you ought to do as your stewardship of God’s grace and contribution to others’ benefit. A few words have often guided and strengthened my resolve, “I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.”

The Apostle Paul reminded Christians in Rome, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” Romans 12:6 NLT. Scripture is best read in the context of what precedes and follows. Paul introduced this verse with a profound understanding, “We belong to one another, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability . . do it!” Read Romans 12:5-8 NLT.

God’s intent is clear. The abilities, skills, and experience God has provided you are for His purposes – serving Him, and serving others in His Name. “We belong to each other and each of us needs all the others.” Romans 12:5 NLT. Neither you nor I are complete separately, but together we are completed and sufficient in Christ. Read 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 NLT. You are needed even as you need others. You need the practical blessing from the giftedness of others, and they need yours.

The opportunities, abilities, and interests you possess are from the Lord and for His purpose and glory – not your pleasure or profit alone, nor to use as you will or withhold as you choose. “So if God has given you the ability . . do it gladly.” Romans 12:6/8 NLT. Don’t tout what you can do or have done, nor apologize for what you can’t do or have not done. Serve others graciously, thereby glorifying God. “For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NLT.

Nothing is more satisfying than a job well done and one for which you are well suited. Your preeminent satisfaction and success are when you offer what you do well, knowing you are serving as God created and gifted you, seeing others strengthened, and knowing God receives the glory. The preeminent benediction of God will be these simple words, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:11. Miss that and you miss everything that matters.

Today, my prayer for you is to experience and express joy-filled contentment each day of your life.

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A God of Surprises

April 27th, 2011

“I am doing a new thing . . making a way in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 NIV

“God is absolutely capable of anything, equally great at everything.”

My thoughts today are about “a God of surprises.”

Some people love a good surprise; some don’t like that at all! I am not all that sure where I stand in that spectrum of preferences. It’s strange how hard people work to make life routine and predictable then wonder why they are bored with it all. God, it seems, is always a surprise in one way or another. If you are looking for predictability, God is probably not where you should look. Every time you think God will do something the same way He did last time, you will be surprised.

Your God has the abilities for incredible diversity and unlimited possibilities. If I were a creator, I would probably have made one or two species, with a limited number of variations. You can’t count all the distinct species God created, from mini to mammoth! Wouldn’t the seven colors of the rainbow have been sufficiently beautiful without nature’s countless hues of color as combinations of those? God is absolutely capable of anything He wishes to accomplish, equally good at everything He does. We are not; maybe that’s why we are surprised when He is.

“Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already – you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.” Isaiah 43:19 TEV. Did you notice the object of all this? It is all about you, and for you. Maybe God is just showing off for grand effect? No, He has no need to impress. God surprises you with what you could not expect apart from Him. The very description of a wilderness is an impassable, undesirable, uninhabitable place – until God makes a road and streams of refreshment there – just for you.

When you are in a place you never wanted to be, facing a task you never wanted to have, with resources too limited for what you need to do. Surprise! God will be there! Daniel found God in a lions’ den, and his friends found Him in a fiery furnace. The disciples found Him in the middle of a threatening sea, smack dab in a terrible storm. Hopeless lepers found God in their impossibility and despair. A widow burying her son found God interrupting the funeral, and herself taking her son home. Two sisters found God commanding their dead brother to live, and He did!

Need I recite more instances? Bewildered and frightened disciples buried a Savior and three days later found Him standing in the locked room with them. God surprises you when and where you least expect Him to be. “Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare ask or hope.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT. You would think after a while you and I would not be so surprised! It seems like eventually you would be surprised only if God did not do the things He is capable of doing. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV.

Maybe you and I would live more surprising lives ourselves, if we were more convinced of the greatness and power of such an amazing God of surprises! “And many signs and wonders were done through the apostles . . and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 4:43/47 NKJV. That’s what God can do through people just like you.

My prayer for you today is that you will stand in awe and wonder of a God who never ceases to surprise.

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Remarkably Original

September 21st, 2010

“Train up a child in keeping with his individual gift or bent.” Proverbs 22:6 Amplified Bible

My thoughts today are about being “remarkably original.”

Today the World Population Clock estimates the world’s population to be 6.87 billion people, and among all of that number, you are unique, a remarkable original. Now, that’s amazing! There are no two persons whose fingerprints are identical! During the worst of blizzards and in the deepest of snowdrifts, there are no two snowflakes alike. And children, even from the same family, though similar are never exactly the same. Each individual has a singular and identifiable DNA that differentiates and distinguishes him or her apart from all others.

You are definably unique – remarkably handmade and custom designed by God! Read Psalm 139:13-16 NIV. Temperaments vary. Abilities differ. Interests are unique. Personalities are distinctive. Aptitudes are individual. Assignments are diverse. God’s limitless creativity made you that way, altogether unique, remarkably original. Imagine a God who can do that!

By divine design, you are “one of a kind.” There is no one anywhere who is exactly what you are. God must have had a reason to do this way beyond “just because He could.” Here’s why all this matters. I think uniqueness means that God has something for you to be and do, which no one else can do as you will, for which you are especially purposed and divinely prepared; it is critical that you dedicate yourself to God’s calling and gifting because there is no one else who can fill your place in His world except you.

Parents, teachers, pastors, and friends – anyone in Godly authority – have a responsibility to study you carefully and handle you wisely, to help you discover how you are unique, and why God has made you so. Then you can learn to value and celebrate how God has made you, and use what God has given you for the good of others. You compliment your Creator by striving to become the best that you can be, for the glory of God. “You are not your own, therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20.

As it relates to a work of art, every copy made is worth substantially less than the original from which it was copied. God made you an original; some people are willing to be copies. Don’t devalue yourself by trying to be exactly like anyone else, nor how anyone else wants you to be. You are already have a Creator; you don’t need an amateur wanna-be messing it up. Doesn’t it seem ironic that people either try to be poor copies of others, or attempt to be different from everyone else, often in the most bizarre of ways?

Be yourself! Be yourself in the wonderful way that God made you, in His image and likeness. A couple of years ago, the Army recruited young men and women by challenging them, Be all that you can be.” That’s a worthy goal that will serve you for a lifetime.

My prayer for you today is: that you find joy in what God is working to do with your life.

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