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Posts Tagged ‘Acts 9:1-6’

A Fresh Start

January 27th, 2017

Today can be an exit from your history and entrance to your destiny

 “His compassions are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a fresh start.”

Life can feel unmanageable, your past cluttered with unfinished business and the path ahead filled with responsibilities. But life is not lived in yesterday or tomorrow; life can only be lived today. Your life is more than the facts of your history or your unrealized destiny. Positively or negatively, both of those are greatly affected by anything, or maybe everything, you do today. You can reinforce your history or rewrite its predictions. You can sell your future cheaply or invest yourself in achieving its potential.

This day is a fresh opportunity to write a new chapter in the ongoing story of your life. Sure, you have made mistakes. There are things you would have done better if you had been wiser. The remedy for regrets is simple. Enjoy a fresh start. Do better; learn from your mistakes rather than repeating them.

King David’s story is a record of repentance and redemption. In repentance, he embraced a greater future. Learn from his example and rejoice with him: “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:23-24 NIV.

Recognize God as Lord of this day and rejoicing becomes the appropriate response. In grace, your history becomes His story. Today can bring a fresh start. Stop rehearsing your mistakes, regretting your failures, or reliving your record. Your God has a record of redeeming tragic histories. And your God is equally adept at crafting unimagined destinies. Both of those the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the context of today.

The Apostle Paul had history that God covered in grace and mercy. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy.” Read 1 Tim 1:12-17 NKJV. On that road to Damascus, Paul met God face to face and his history was redeemed and his destiny assured. Read Acts 9:1-6 NKJV. People do not turn their life around without divine intervention. Only ignorance or arrogance – or both – would make a person attempt such a life change without God.

Paul found there was only one answer for spiritual transformation and subsequent conformation to Christ-likeness. “I am still not all that I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to Heaven.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Notice that Paul mentioned, “one thing,” and then proceeded to talk about, “forgetting, looking forward, and straining to reach.” The one thing Paul believed crucial was expressed in three equally essential actions: laying aside everything inhibiting about yesterday, living with anticipation today, and giving Godly effort to fulfill God’s calling every day that follows. Today can be an exit from your history and entrance to your destiny.

Today, I pray for you to trust both your history and destiny into Jesus’ capable hands.

Christian Communications 2017

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Spiritual Discomfiture

May 20th, 2015

“Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.” Acts 8:4 NKJV.

God permits situations beyond your custom and convenience.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual discomfiture.”

“Discomfiture,” is defined as, “a feeling of unease, uncomfortableness.” At times, God will permit spiritual discomfiture to dislodge you from comfortable places for more than you could accomplish if you remained as you were or where you were. Unwanted or unexpected changes are discomfiting. Since Pentecost, the Church at Jerusalem had seen noticeable growth, and with that came a notoriety that was not so favorable. “At that time a great persecution arose against the Church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions . . therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word. Comfortable people don’t make inconvenient changes, except by necessity.

Their dispersion was involuntary, prompted by circumstances contrary to their wishes or control. What was previously comfortable for them was presently in contrast with God’s purpose. There were eternal plans of which they were not yet aware. Before His ascension, Jesus specifically instructed, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8.

Content within their current boundaries, the Jerusalem believers could not fully accomplish God’s will for the extension of the Gospel, “to the end of the earth.” And consider, this persecution and geographical disbursing of believers would ultimately result in the unparalleled conversion of the Church’s primary persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, who would become an apostle and most prolific author of the New Testament. Read Acts 9:1-6.

God was serious about His intention for those first century Christians. Apparently, God is just as serious about orchestrating your life into His purposes and plans. His promise remains sure, “The plans I have for you are plans for your good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. A future without hope is empty; hope without a future is futility. I add my Amen to David, “As for God, His way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.” Psalm 18:30 NLT.

(1) God is more invested in your eternal contribution than your current comfort. Jesus warned, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . but store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven . . for where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NIV. God will make every effort to include you in what has eternal significance and enduring fulfillment.

(2) God permits situations beyond your custom and convenience. God allowed circumstances that stretched those early disciples beyond their customary routines and into the direction of His purposes. The uncomfortable experience for those Christians was persecution. Fleeing Jerusalem for their own, and their family’s safety, they discovered unforeseen opportunities. Everywhere they went, they were preaching about Jesus.

(3) God purposes only what will be for your good, and the good of others. Closed doors can be the Lord’s protection; open doors can be the Lord’s provision. Today, persecution is not likely to be the impetus to push you or me to new horizons. More likely that may be an unexpected disruption of carefully made plans, or inexplicable discontentment that opens your heart to new possibilities, or a turn of events you had not foreseen that introduces a new and fulfilling direction.

Until discomfort where you are becomes greater than the anxiety of moving onward, you will remain where you are, doing what you’ve done. That is not at all what God wills for you, providing neither progress nor growth.

Today, I pray for you to embrace any temporary discomfort to gain an enduring satisfaction.

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Spiritual Intimacy

November 14th, 2014

“That I may know Christ.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual intimacy.”

Life requires purpose and a superceding objective. Your purpose has to be consequential enough to weather the demands life will require of you and influential enough to empower you to give the effort necessary to achieve and excel. Any person is insufficiently inspired who lacks an objective worthy of the sacrifices needed. The greatest purpose is knowing Jesus Christ in a practical, personal, and intimate way. His intent is that you, “. . know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV.

Intellectual knowledge alone is inadequate for the personal and experiential knowledge of Christ that Paul sought. He desired a transformative experience of soul and spirit that redeems the heart (See Romans 7:15-26 NIV) and forever alters the desires and direction of one’s life. Read Acts 9:1-6. Subsequently, Paul pledged a devotion to Christ that did not exclude the most severe of mortal threats. “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . .” See Acts 20:22-24.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy. Information without corresponding experience becomes intellectual, without relational integrity. As I intend, “relational integrity” describes a commitment to absolute authenticity in relating to God or others. Authenticity is the only enduring basis for real intimacy. Worse yet, intellectual information without corresponding, spiritual experience immunizes you from a real and vital relationship with God.

As a young, college student preparing for ministry, I prayed that Paul’s passion for Christ would be my passion as well. “That I may know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10. This verse became, and remains today, my “life verse.” Paul’s words describe my purpose and objective. I am committed to daily experience an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Paul’s passion to “know Christ,” expressed an unparalleled intimacy, with disregard for suffering or sacrifice. The same expression is found in the Old Testament, “Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived . .” (Genesis 4:1), as well as in the New Testament, describing Mary’s incredulity at the angel’s announcement, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:30-38. The word expresses experiential knowledge that forcefully creates and releases new life. Do not be content to know about God, without experiencing Christ personally and powerfully. Anything less is inadequate.

Passionately, Paul desired an encounter with Jesus that releases God’s power and new life, in and through him. Such spiritual intimacy evidences itself in a power for life that is linked to and sourced from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. See Ephesians 1:17-21 NIV. Nothing you encounter will ever prove His Resurrection power insufficient. In Jesus’ resurrection, God turned apparent defeat into glorious triumph.  Whatever is broken in your life can be fixed. What seems listless and lifeless can receive life abundantly.

If you desire anything more than Him, then your passion to know Him as He desires to be known is lacking. Jesus was clear, “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You have sent to earth.”  John 17:3 NLT. There is a depth of relationship that results from intimate fellowship experienced with God through Christ. Only then will you know the power that flows from His Resurrection into the very circumstances where you walk and live every day.

Today, my prayer for you is to know Jesus to the extent you could never again be the same.

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