Posts Tagged ‘Acts 20:24’

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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Spending and Investing

August 3rd, 2012

“I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” 2 Corinthians 12:15 NKJV

Prize life only as invested meaningfully in service to God and others.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spending and investing.”

There are a few people who would not give a moment of their time that was not convenient, nor a nickel that wasn’t required of them. They may have more time and things than they otherwise would, but they will have a lot fewer real friends. I was recently with a friend who is exceptional in his generosity. He is generous with what he has, but even more importantly, he is generous with who he is. When I grow up, I want to be just like him!

But therein lies the problem. Most of us never grow up in this grace, because generosity appears costly. Too late in life we learn it is the lack of generosity that is really expensive. Solomon wisely observed, “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.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. Saving yourself for your own benefit doesn’t work out so well.

Listen to Paul’s words, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” 2 Corinthians 12:15 NKJV. Prize life only as invested meaningfully in service to God and others. What you spend is gone; what you invest returns. I have not regretted any investment of myself in the Kingdom of God or into the lives of others. I notice a small but significant distinction in Paul’s words. There are occasions when you simply choose to live liberally – “very gladly spend” – but there are also times when necessity dictates sacrifice for the benefit of others – “be spent.” Paul spoke of experiences when “necessity is laid upon me” to preach the Gospel. Read 1 Corinthians 9:16 NKJV. Making a difference is the greatest joy in life.

The Apostle Paul understood the spiritual virtue of self-denial. “I do not count my life dear to myself.” Acts 20:24. Paul did not discount the importance of his life; he lived life and loved life to its fullest potential. His life was dear only within the purposes of God. There is a principal of self-denial here that is applicable to everyday life. Self-denial is not top of the list of desired lifestyles.

Self-denial embraces sacrifice without regard to price or personal cost. Self-denial prefers others before self. Romans 12:10. Self-denial seeks the interests of others before your own. Philippians 2:4. Self-denial does what is right instead of wrong. James 4:17. Self-denial may well be the defining mark of a true disciple. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:24.

In the Old Testament, Jacob could be a case study of the need for this humbling work of the Holy Spirit in one’s heart. See Genesis 25-33. Jacob lived by his wits – manipulating, deceiving, and negotiating for his gain. You didn’t strike a fair bargain with Jacob; you settled for his leftovers. It was a lifestyle, until he wrestled with an angel. What he had once gotten by guile from his brother and father, he now sought by insistence from God. Genesis 32:24-31. “[An angel] touched the socket of Jacob’s hip . . [Jacob said] ‘I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved’ . . and he limped on his hip.” Genesis 32:25/30-31. You will walk differently after an encounter with God like that.

My prayer for you today is that you learn when first place is not the best place.

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Finishing Well

May 30th, 2011

“That I may finish my race with joy.” Acts 20:24 NKJV

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

My thoughts today are about “finishing well.”

In life, beginnings are important, just as thoroughness and the diligence to follow through provides solid foundations for all future achievement. But most essential is the task of finishing well. A lot of people start things they have neither the persistence to continue nor dedication to complete. As a boy, I recall my Dad saying, “Allen, anything worth doing is worth doing well; don’t start something you don’t intend to finish.” Life one day comes to an end for one and all. At that point, what matters is your accomplishments, not your attempts or intentions.

Dad’s words were usually a reminder when I grew weary in a job not being done as well as I could. My Dad believed only a person’s best effort is worthy in God’s eyes, and His appraisal is what ultimately matters. You have fewer regrets when you have done your best. “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these – ‘It might have been.’” John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892).

I am no longer a young man, yet there is still more for me as God gives grace and opportunity, but not as much as lays behind me. When I was a younger pastor, my thoughts were of what I hoped to do and though there is yet opportunity for accomplishment, my reflection is more on what I hope was done and whether or not it was done well. In a few months, I will relinquish to another the ministry position and responsibilities that I have carried for nearly 48 years. I have some mixed emotions about that. It is not a regret of doing so; that was my choice and God’s direction. My heart is at rest that this is “the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.”

My concern is not whether I have done enough; the adequacy of my efforts I leave for others to evaluate. My hope is this: that what I have done by the grace of God has been done as well as I was capable of doing; that judgment I leave to God alone. The Apostle Paul had a practical approach to this. “Have I been faithful? It matters very little what anyone else thinks . . it is the Lord Himself who will examine and decide . . when the Lord comes . . then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-6 NLT. Did you notice? God examines with purpose and expectation to praise you!

A runner intent on finishing well does not slow his step nor slack his effort with the finish line in sight; runners are coached to “run through the tape.” You and I are running a far more consequential race and you must cross the finish line. See Hebrews 11:1-4 NIV. Paul’s later years were spent in prison, so he used his confinement to write much of the New Testament. “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.” Acts 20:24. Boundaries do not determine your potential. Finishing well means to live in such a way that the touch of your life extends well beyond the reach of your lifetime. The good news is this: as long as there is life, it is never too late to do better and finish well.

Paul finished well, as must you. “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness . . I eagerly expect and hope I will . . have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8/Philippians 1:20-21 NIV. My hope and heart’s intent is that I finish well with God’s approval. The applause of just one, the Just One, is enough for me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you live a life pleasing to God and satisfying to your soul.

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Things Eternal

November 25th, 2009

“My life is worth nothing unless . .” Acts 20:24 Living Bible

To have true worth, life’s brevity must be invested in things eternal.”

Lauren, my thoughts today are about “things eternal.”

Have you considered how you would finish the statement of today’s verse? Unless what? What would make the years of your lifetime more worthwhile? You are given only so much time; the actual extent of your lifetime is unknown to you. How you use that time – what you do of lasting value during your life’s season – will determine the worth of the life you live. That will be left for God and others to judge. Meanwhile, you need to live with clarity about matters that are truly important, and those things will ultimately touch what is eternal.

Some years ago, God seemed to be speaking to me about committing myself to “daily focus on Kingdom priorities and eternal realities.” It is easy to just live day by day reacting to the random things that arise and the routines that are comfortable and familiar. But is that how you want to live? Will ordinariness provide sufficient satisfaction?

God would have you engaged with what is important and of priority to His will and work in the world. For life to be truly worthwhile, you have to live everyday with eternity in view. In the grand and eternal scheme of things, even the longest of lifetimes is brief by comparison. To have true worth, life’s brevity must be invested in things eternal.

For life to be filled with joy and meaning, it has to be lived with purpose. That purpose has to be bigger than you, greater than your plans, and well beyond your simply seeking comfort and accumulation of possessions. Only what God counts worthy will you find ultimately worthwhile.

Each day you live is the currency with which you are investing in life and eternity. Jesus advises you to “stockpile treasure in Heaven where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Matthew 6.20-21 The Message. Jesus was teaching about having worth, and protecting that worth for eternity. He knew that your eternal destiny is determined by your direction, and your direction is drawn toward what you value and count worthwhile to give your time, talent, and treasure.

Here’s how the Apostle Paul finished the sentence, “My life is worth nothing unless . . I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:24 NLT. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of that verse voices Paul’s heart this way, “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master gave me of letting everyone know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” I want that to be said of my life! If you want that to be said of your life, be clear about what it takes to make that so.

Lauren, my prayer for you today is that you prefer His plans for your life above your own.

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