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Posts Tagged ‘abounding’

Questions and Doubts

August 23rd, 2018

Questions Are Inevitable. Doubts Are Avoidable.

“All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Questions and Doubts.”

To any honest heart, there are times and occasions in life that produce questions. With our limited perspective and imperfect knowledge, many times and many things don’t appear to make sense at the moment. Times and things introduce uncertainty. At one time or another, everyone has questions. If you haven’t, you either have not lived long enough or faced anything tough enough if life has not made you ask why on occasion.

Maybe you have felt guilty and swallowed your questions rather than ask them. Know this. God is not threatened by your questions nor surprised by your bewilderment. In the agony of the Cross, Jesus cried out to His Father, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” His words came from the depths of His humanity. He had questions, but He did not yield to doubt. Before Jesus breathed His last breath on that cross, He turned His face toward the future and His Father, and said, “Father, I entrust my spirit into Your hands. And with those words Jesus breathed His last.” Luke 23:46 NLT. His final words were faith- filled.

Whatever the circumstances of my life or death, I choose to submit my feelings and fears to truth and trust. If Jesus can find peace and faith in such a moment as He faced, He will empower you and me to do so as well. Preparing for the cross as Jesus prayed to His Father, His future was secured by His words, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done!” Jesus had questions, but He did not succumb to doubt.

Questions are inevitable. Questions can play a vital role in learning. Questions push you beyond the known and understood to what has not been previously considered. Great discoveries and advances in technology advances have happened because someone asked questions no one else bothered to ask. A person does not have faith because they have no questions. If you had no questions, why would you need faith? Faith looks at the hardest questions, and though often without answers, simply trusts God’s love, wisdom, and sufficient grace.

You may struggle to resolve your questions. But you must choose to deal with your doubts. You can be without doubts while wrestling with the toughest questions, maybe even unanswerable ones. Paul did not say that was easy to do, but he does show that it is possible to do. Read the context of today’s verse. “None of these things move me.” Acts 20:24. Paul knew he was facing, “jail and suffering.” Read Acts 20:22-23 NKJ and 21:10-14 NIV. For any thinking person, that would raise some unsettling questions. I would expect Paul had questions about that. I would; you likely would as well.

When you are uncertain, and questions trouble your mind and rob your peace, concentrate on what is certain and unchanging and rest your questions there. That place is the Word and character of God. When there seems too much that you do not know, be sure of what you do know. Paul wrote, “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is complete comes, what is partial will be done away  . . now I know partially, then I will know fully just as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NIV. Dwell on what you know. Deal with what you don’t. Rest in what God says.

What leaves more unanswered questions than death, and resurrection? After Paul’s expansive defense of the Resurrection, he summarizes this way, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Those admirable character qualities – “steadfast, immovable, and always abounding” –  evidence a mature Christian who has asked their questions and chosen to move beyond their doubts to rest peacefully in God and His character and Word.

Even when there are serious questions, you can still live and trust with no doubts about God. Paul is a prime example. From prison, he wrote to young Timothy, “I am suffering here in prison . . but I know the One in whom I trust, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT.

Today, I pray you will submit your questions and surrender your doubts to God.

Christian Communications 2018

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Daily Bread

October 16th, 2015

“I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” John 6:35 NIV.

External things never satisfy eternal cravings.

My thoughts and comments today are about “daily bread.”

Hunger is a powerful motivation, impossible to ignore completely. God crafted your body to recognize its need for replenishing, whether for nutrition, exercise, or rest. The body responds to its lack by sending a signal and demanding a response. When the body’s need is not replenished, the body redirects the diminishing supply of nutritional resources to its vital organs. To adequately supply the heart, lungs, and brain, the body grows weaker waiting for nourishment, as the process of starving begins.

The human spirit is similar, requiring nourishment and replenishing. Make no mistake; there is a hunger of the soul. People ignore the hunger of the inner man or misinterpret their inner longings, trying in vain to fill a growing emptiness with things that never satisfy – money, possessions, busyness, thrills, amusements, sex, drugs, alcohol – always to excess yet never enough. External things never satisfy eternal cravings.

Too many fail to recognize the origin of the soul’s hunger. Jesus spoke plainly and confidently, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NIV. Listen to your heart; feed your soul; nourish your spirit; discover full satisfaction. Satisfaction is found only in Christ.

The Bread of Life desires that you know He alone will satisfy your supreme longings. His provision is abounding. Jesus is life exalting and eternal life assuring. It’s simple really; you have to come to Him. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 NIV. Jesus declared Himself to be that daily bread. “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51 NIV.

Job got it right, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12 KJV. Let’s be practical. You receive this life-giving, daily bread through the discipline of spiritual practices: worship (John 4:23-24), prayer and praise (Ephesians 6:18), personal Bible study (Psalm 119:11), meditation of Scripture (Psalm 1:1-3), and meaningful fellowship with others who seek the same Source and satisfaction. (Acts 2:42/46 NIV). Spiritual disciplines provide satisfaction that is much more full and lasting than any and everything else with which you might attempt to appease the spiritual hunger within. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . they shall be completely satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 NIV/AMP. In Jesus, your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Today, I pray for you to have an appetite for things that satisfy.

EDL pix basket of bread

 

 

 

Christian Communications

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Abiding and Abounding

August 5th, 2014

“I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5.

The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abiding and abounding.”

England has long been one of my favorite places to visit. I especially enjoy having lunch in British pubs, the older and authentic the better. I enjoy seeing signs on businesses, such as, “Established 1868.” Such information evidences pride in history and heritage, implying promise of reliability.

Several things have prompted my thoughts today. A few days ago, I came across the notes from my first sermon as a young pastor at Trinity Church, “The Life That Is Established,” May 25, 1975. I knew that was a Biblical principle I wanted to visit again. And over the weekend, I officiated at long-time friends’ Renewal of Vows on their 70th Anniversary. Then Sunday, I dedicated our great grandson, Carter, as Gayle and I also celebrated our 51st Anniversary. I guess I like people, places, and things that have been and will continue to be around a while. Your faith in Christ should be like that.

Paul was intent on Christian life being lived with confidence and security. I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in [the faith] with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:5-7. Paul refers to both “your faith,” which you are to exercise and be “steadfast,” as well as “the faith” in which you are to abide and be “established.”  Your faith abides upon the greater faith. See John 15:7, 9-10/1 John 2:24. What God begins in grace He continues in faith and concludes in thanksgiving. That process results in your being “established and abounding with thanksgiving.” The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

The world is a complex state of flux, symptomatic of shifting politics, international alliances, erratic economies, disintegrating marriages, and dysfunctional families. You need a place of emotional, moral, and spiritual equilibrium. David wrote, “He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God.” See Psalm 40:1-3. Such a place is only found in God and His truth. There you recover direction and determination.

A proper outcome requires much more than good intentions and optimistic beginnings. A final outcome results from what you do between where you begin and when you finish. Keep God as “the Author and Finisher of your faith,” at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. The Bible provides a practical guide for abiding and abounding. Read Hebrews 12:1-4. There is much that will oppose and discourage you. The Bible describes those oppositional forces as, the world around you“every weight and the sin that ensnares you” (vs. 1-2), and the flesh within you “weary and discouraged in your souls” (vs. 3), and the devil against you“striving against sin” (vs. 4). After Paul’s lengthy and practical discourse about the Resurrection, he logically concludes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Today, my prayer for you is that you abide in Christ and abound with thanksgiving.

Christian Communications, Inc.

(All Bible references are NKJV unless otherwise noted.)

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Distractions and Diversions

May 28th, 2014

“Anyone who starts to plow, then keeps looking back is of no use . .” Luke 9:62 TEV.

The devil is the master of distraction and deception.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions and diversions.”

Distractions happen. Distractions waste more of a person’s time than we realize when they occur. Ironically, while writing this, I became distracted. That happens easily to any of us. Interruptions occur; misdirection results. Here’s the problem. Typically, you are not interrupted by more important matters. Usually, lesser things crowd into your life and crowd out of your life things you cannot afford to procrastinate. Your success results from setting priorities, maintaining focus, and avoiding distraction.

A distraction can be a brief, pleasant diversion. However, any diversion has potential for a misdirection you may not intend. That can be costly if not noticed and corrected. Unfortunately, distractions come in all shapes and descriptions, some in the pretense of responsibilities or others disguised as opportunities. The devil is the master of distraction and deception, using love of the world, desires, worry, regret, greed, anger, offences, or temptations to dissuade you from being the person Christ means you to be.

Jesus spoke of the danger of spiritual distraction, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.” Read Luke 9:57-62 TEV. See John 6:66-69 NIV. Jesus’ clearest teaching on distraction is found in a parable He told. Read Matthew 13:3-8 NIV. The same seed – with incalculable potential for good – had differing results, according to the reception of its truth. Jesus was not talking about farmers and fields, nor seed and soils. In His story, Jesus was describing people into whose hearts and lives the Word of God was sown, inefficiently in some but effectively in others. Read Matthew 13:18-23 NIV. Whatever diminishes your obedience to God’s Word, His will, and His ways is a distraction you cannot afford.

Beware; distractions preempt attention from what God is saying and doing in your life. “The evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” Vs 19. Your spiritual life requires priority and focus. Distractions dull God’s calling in your heart and diminish His dreams for you before their time of harvest.

Be careful; distractions prevent the Word of God from becoming rooted in your heart. “Since he has no root, he lasts only for a short time. When trouble comes . . he quickly falls away.” Vs 20-21. Avoid shallow convictions and superficial faith. See Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV.

Be watchful; distractions preoccupy your mind with worries and fears instead of God’s Word. “The worries of this life choke [the Word], making it unfruitful.” Vs 22. Worry ignores God’s Word while consuming thoughts and emotions with fear, suffocating hope, and destroying expectation. See Philippians 4:6-8 NLT/2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Jesus’ conclusion is, “. . the man who hears the Word of God and understands it. He produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” Vs 23. Paul was neither distracted nor dissuaded, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . . one thing I do, forgetting . . reaching . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Acts 20:22-24/Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding.

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Sufficiency

April 2nd, 2014

“In all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV.

Sufficiency is more about access to ample resources than possession of assets.

My thoughts and comments today are about “sufficiency.”

Most people are not trying to acquire and accumulate as much stuff as they can. People just want enough to have confidence that they will have what is adequate, if and when they need it. At some point, everyone has felt the fear that their limited means would be insufficient in an emergency. Your inadequacy is true, but His sufficiency is more true. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient . .” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV.

The difference among people is not that their needs differ; we all have similar basic needs. Some assume what they have is all they have. You will find security in the conviction and trust that all God has is what you will have, as needed. The first results in anxiety; the latter produces assurance. “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. Psalm 65:11 NKJV.

Sufficiency is more about access to ample resources than one’s possession of assets. After Jesus’ lengthy discourse about daily needs, needless worry, and ample provision, He defines God’s providence, “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day – if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:31-33 NLT. When God and His Kingdom become your first priority, you become His primary responsibility.

A life of sufficiency results from a lifestyle of generosity. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously . . God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV. Let these words dwell in your heart, “In all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound . .” That is the description of providential sufficiency.

A promise is only as good as the intention, character, and resources of the one promising. Paul considered the intention of God as indisputable: “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 NIV.

Paul believed the character of God was unchangeable. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now glory be to God our Father forever and ever.” Philippians 4:19-20 NLT.

Paul measured the providential resources of God as sufficient. “Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV. Our Father has not only the ability and ample resources to do as He says but also possesses a compelling love to provide for His own.

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent . . for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 NKJV. Sufficiency from above is your blessing now and forever.

My prayer for you today is that you trust God for His daily provision, temporal and eternal.

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