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Posts Tagged ‘Acts 24:16’

Unfinished Business

September 22nd, 2015

“As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV.

Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unfinished business.”

There are probably things in your life left unfinished for various reasons, some unavoidably and some unwisely. There are things started but later found not to be all that important, or matters begun without enough commitment, time, or resource to sustain effort. At other times pressing priorities displace previous intentions. Some situations require others’ cooperation or willingness, which they may be unwilling to provide. Occasionally though, there are things that should not be left undone. Jesus chided the Pharisees because they were careful about things important to them but casual about things important to God. To those more religious than righteous, Jesus said, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23 NKJV. Do all that you can every time you can.

Important matters require closure. Jesus provides a great example. Imagine the joy in Jesus’ heart as he surveyed His life, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 NKJV. There is a satisfaction of soul that accompanies obedience. It is important to know, “the things (God) has given you to do,” and to do them. Even on the cross, in His pain and suffering Jesus looked to His Father and confidently declared, “It is finished.” John 19:30 NKJV. Unfinished business is neither wise nor profitable. We are all prone to ignore the awkward or avoid the unpleasant situations that would be difficult, painful, or personally costly. Doing so leaves a life more complicated than is healthy.

In light of the coming resurrection and judgment, Paul wrote, “I always strive to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men.” Acts 24:16 NKJV. Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past with either God or man. Leave no unfinished business with either. Jesus told a touching story about a loving father and his two very different sons. Read Luke 15:11-31 NKJV. After a lengthy time squandering his father’s generosity, the younger son realized vital relationships were improperly unfinished. “When he came to himself . . he said to himself . . I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, I have sinned.” There needed to be Godly repentance and restoration with the family – the younger son with both his father and brother, and the elder son with brother and father.  The Heavenly Father was reflected when forgiveness and restoration were offered freely to both.

This is the good news. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. Allow nothing to settle in your heart or life that needs Godly closure with God or man. Is there a family relationship, broken friendship, discarded promise, or neglected obedience awaiting your initiative? Paul gave good counsel, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV. But be advised; everything cannot be sorted out single-handedly, but the initiative is yours.

Today, I pray for you that your past will be clean and your conscience clear.

Christian Communications 103107

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Condemnation and Conviction

December 19th, 2013

Whenever our hearts condemn us . . God is greater than our hearts.1 John 3:20 NIV.

Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “condemnation and conviction.”

There are times when you will behave badly. A sadness of heart results, maybe even degrees of shame. You try to ignore it, but an internal uneasiness makes that difficult. The real issue is not that you failed to measure up to others’ criteria; the sadness or shame you feel is rooted in a diminished expectation of yourself.

That recognition is a good sign of a healthy, God-given sensitivity, “[demonstrating] that God’s law is written within their hearts, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.” Romans 2:14-15 NLT/NKJV. What is more important than to know right from wrong? God does not leave such to personal interpretation. Read James 4:17 NIV.

The Holy Spirit, who is within you, is grieved when you violate your innate knowledge of right and wrong. Yet that is an experience common to all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NKJV. The Spirit is God’s gift, and arbiter of the Word of God as well as the Law of God, written on your heart and expressed in your conscience. See also Acts 24:16 NKJV.

Paul admonished the Christ-followers at Ephesus, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NKJV. Those who continually disregard the pleadings of the Holy Spirit risk what the Bible describes as, “having their conscience seared [as] with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV. To a stubborn heart wrong appears right and right seems wrong. Believe me; that is not a place you want to find yourself. John 3:19-20 NKJV.

Ignoring the discomfort within yourself or refusing the pleadings of the gentle Holy Spirit who comes to “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness” (See John 16:8 NKJV),you will feel guilt and its resultant shame. Be advised of the distinction you must understand between condemnation and conviction.

The Bible is clear, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-2 NKJV. God convicts; the devil condemns. They can feel similar, almost indistinguishable, though they are not alike at all. The difference is in their intent and result, not in the regret or emotions you feel.

(10) Examine the intent. Without equivocation, I assure you God did not send His Son to condemn you; He came to save you! The Bible declares, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 NKJV. Whereas, the devil is described as, “the accuser.” Revelation 12:10 NKJV. He wishes only your harm. See John 10:10 NIV.

(2) Consider the results. “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the One who died for us and was raised to life for us . .nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . .” Romans 8:33-39 NLT. Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation. “This then is how we . . set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 NIV. Conviction creates repentance; condemnation only produces impotent regret . . but “God is greater than our hearts . .”

My prayer for you today is that you heart remains at rest before God.

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Regrets, Repentance, and Redemption

October 9th, 2013

“Jesus . . became poor so that you through His poverty might become [enriched].” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV.

Redemption is the lavish application of God’s grace to remove every cause for regret.

My thoughts and comments today are about “regrets, repentance, and redemption.”

Everyone has regrets. Everyone makes mistakes. What happens after you make a mistake or poor choice is what matters most. People regret things wrongly committed – harsh words, angry reactions, bad behavior, impatience – which they wish they had restrained. Or regret can result from good things omitted. The Bible cautions, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. God views sins of omission and sins of commission alike.

Your goal should be to have a sanctified and trained conscience that preempts your natural inclination to do wrong, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Paul offered a worthy goal, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Acts 24:16 NIV. Regret is a belated recognition of wrongdoing.

There was a time when I assumed righteousness could be measured by how long I could go without sinning. Trust me; that is not very effective. Along the way, I have come to understand that a better measurement of a Godly heart is the brevity of time between recognition of wrong and repentance for it. Regret is ineffective; only repentance can release redemption. Any delay or neglect of repentance produces the pain of regret without promise of release.

The prodigal son experienced devastating regret. Read Luke 15:11-24 NKJV. Eventually, he felt humiliated by his foolishness before and his degrading existence now. Nothing would have changed had he not “come to himself” and determined to return home to his father. Vs. 17-20. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:9 NIV. Regret alone is insufficient, but true repentance results in redemption. “Just see what this Godly sorrow produced in you . . you showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.” Vs. 11 NLT.

Regret preoccupies you with paralyzing emotions of remorse; repentance releases you from regret and remorse. “You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you [enriched].” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT. Obviously, Paul’s contrasting words, “rich and poor,” reference our spiritual poverty contrasted with the abounding riches of God’s grace. “I thank my God always concerning the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him . .” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6 NKJV. In Christ, regret is replaced by rejoicing.

Redemption is the lavish application of God’s grace, removing every cause for regret, whatever its source. See Ephesians 1:3-9 NKJV. On His cross, the Savior “emptied Himself,” (Philippians 2:5-9 NAS) so that you and I can be enriched in the fullness of grace and redemption His eternal sacrifice affords. Whatever your regrets, bring them to Jesus and rest secure in His amazing grace.

My prayer for you today is that you live free of regret, rejoicing in God’s plenteous grace.

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Conscience

May 21st, 2012

Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear.” 1 Timothy 1:19 NLT

It is folly to mentally approve what your heart disapproves.

My thoughts and comments today are about “conscience.”

Who has never been tempted with doing wrong? But be advised, temptation imposes turmoil between reconciling right and wrong – a vain attempt to justify what you want to do with what you know is right to do. Torment results when you try to mentally approve what your heart disapproves. You were created to love and obey God; when you will not, you experience an uncomfortable, emotional and spiritual dissonance you cannot reconcile apart from God.

In matters of one’s eternal soul, a loving God leaves nothing to chance. Inside every heart there is the God-given capacity to hear His still small voice.I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV. In the arena of right and wrong, that is your conscience. God is faithful. The prophet Isaiah said to wayward Israel, ”Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV. Ignoring your conscience imposes a growing pain felt in your soul’s discomfort. Violating one’s conscience incites troubling inner turmoil from which you do not find relief. Only repentance, obedience, and God’s grace can restore an untroubled conscience.

You ignore God’s voice in your heart to your own discomfort, even peril. Paul’s fatherly advice to young Timothy and the Bible’s loving instruction to you is, “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” 1 Timothy 1:19 NLT. Tragic pictures come to mind from the single word, “shipwrecked” – shattered lives, hurting families, damaged reputations, and haunting regret.

On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on Italy’s Tuscan coast. Hours later the ship capsized in the dark of night. The report was, “More than 4,000 passengers and crew were able to abandon ship under chaotic circumstances, though thirty-two passengers and crew perished in the tragedy . . the ship’s captain was in the wrong when he directed the Concordia too close on an unauthorized sail-by . .” “Unauthorized” . . where trouble always seems to begin, but not end. Moral, relational, and spiritual shipwrecks harm yourself and innocent people, in ways you cannot foresee.

King David ignored his conscience and tragic consequences ensued, in his life and the lives of others. See Psalm 32:1-5 NLT/51:1-4 NIV. Joseph followed his conscience, resisting Potiphar’s wife and reasoning, “How then can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 49:9 NIV. The Bible gave wise instruction when Paul wrote, “Always keep your conscience clear.” How you do that is usually the question. God’s answer is simple, “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ.” The simple way to avoid doing the wrong thing is by always choosing to do the right thing. Choose to do what is right and pleasing to God, what is true to God’s Word and character. Read Psalm 139:23-24 NLT.

These words are as true today as when written centuries ago, “He will easily be content and at peace, whose conscience is pure.” Thomas a Kempis, 14th Century Catholic Monk. Truth is timeless. The Bible describes people, “who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.” Hebrews 5:14 NLT. Your conscience needs to be sanctified daily by the truth found in God’s Word. Be mature in Christ; life works best that way. See Acts 24:16 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to listen to God in a sanctified heart.

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Do the Right Thing

February 10th, 2012

“This is what [God] requires: to do what is right . . before God.” Micah 6:8 NLT

“Doing the right thing now is simpler than undoing the wrong thing later.”

My thoughts and comments today are to “do the right thing.”

It is not always easy to know the right thing to do, and actually doing the right thing is only harder. There is no one who has not learned that doing the wrong thing is not a very good alternative. Wrong never turns out right! Our lives tell the story of times when we haven’t known or done the right thing and the difficulty, hurt, and regret that resulted.

This is not a problem new to this generation. The prophet Micah wrote to people who had lost their way; having abandoned the Law of God, they no longer even knew the right thing to do. Ever been there, done that? In answer to their questions of what they could do to regain God’s favor, Micah’s answer was simple, “The Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what He requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 NLT. The basic observation I make from this passage is this: doing the right thing now is always simpler than undoing the wrong thing later. The right thing is rarely very complicated.

Examine that verse carefully and read it practically. God “has already told you;” they ignored but they could not plead ignorance. What does God want you to do? Do as God has told you – “what is good.” God does not make suggestions about right and wrong. He clearly sets forth His expectations in His Word – “this is what He requires.” Here’s the formula for pleasing God: “do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Simple, isn’t it?

“Do what is right.” Doing wrong when you know what is right will never work out well for you. The Bible says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. Is there anything unclear about that? Doing the wrong thing is rarely human error. God put a moral compass – a conscience – inside your spirit that warns you of wrong whether or not you can fully understand or explain that. “Because of this (Day of judgment), I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and everyone else.” Acts 24:16 NLT. Doing the right thing is always easier. Right and wrong is not what you want or decide it to be; it is what God declares it to be.

“Love mercy.” The right thing to do is to love to give mercy as much as you love to receive it. Everyone loves mercy that is shown to them; God calls you to love showing mercy to others as you desire to be extended to you. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy . . For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Matthew 5:7/James 2:13 NKJV.

“Walk humbly before your God.” Humility is the fruit of a personal realization of your own frailties when considering another’s failure. Humility is the only suitable posture of a person before God; arrogance and presumption of your innocence is distasteful. Peter learned the lesson painfully well, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves . .” 1 Peter 5:5-6 NIV.

My prayer for you today is: do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

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