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Posts Tagged ‘allegiance’

Integrity and Potential

December 1st, 2015

“David walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness.” 1 Kings 9:4 NKJV.

God evaluates a person by their potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “integrity and potential.”

Contrary to common belief, “What you see is not always what you get.” Our culture is content with style more than substance. People are too easily impressed with much that is superficial rather than substantial. First impressions are usually formed on outward appearance, without the bother of looking further. Buyers are enticed with more that is promised than delivered. Exaggeration seems the rule. Fad and fashion take precedence over utility and durability. The hype of advertising typically exceeds the real worth or quality of the product advertised.

That must never be true of your spiritual life. Be advised; do not demand of others more than you require of yourself. Integrity seems increasingly scarce. Integrity is defined as: “adherence to moral principles, unimpaired, soundness, honesty, unity, wholeness.” In mathematics, an “integer” describes a whole number as distinguished from a fractional number. Integrity is neither defined nor achieved in a single moment or by sporadic conduct; integrity is the sum of one’s Godly aspirations to all that is right before God, alongside uncompromised allegiance to God’s will and faithful adherence to God’s Word.

As I read the Bible, I am intrigued by the concept of integrity, a critical subject about which the Bible has a lot to say. See Proverbs 10:9/Psalm 41:12 NKJV/ Proverbs 11:3/ Psalm 25:21 NIV. Ever wondered how and why God chooses people He anoints and uses extraordinarily? God values character above natural abilities. Our God is purposeful, never whimsical. He is consistent with His own eternal principles, working by design not coincidence.

When God chose David, the youngest of seven sons from the Bethlehem hillsides, His instruction to Samuel was, “Do not consider his appearance or his height . . the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7 NIV. Jesse and Samuel, David’s father and a prophet there to anoint a new King, did not see in David what God saw in him. They saw what they could see; God saw what only He could know – the Godly potential in, “a heart after God.” Read Acts 13:22-23 NKJV.

“David walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness.” 1 Kings 9:4 NKJV. That is encouraging to those of us who seem less obvious choices, less naturally gifted, with limited natural abilities. God evaluates a person by their potential. Potential never exceeds integrity. God sees possibilities others assume improbable. The Almighty God has everything you lack and will supply everything you need, if you possess a heart that delights in God above all.

Today, I pray for you that your passion for God flows from a heart do all His will.

To be continued . .

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Lifestyle Issues

March 11th, 2015

“We urge you to live in a way that pleases God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NLT.

Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lifestyle issues.”

EDL pix walking with God

If you try to please everyone, you will ultimately please no one and make yourself miserable in the process. Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone. Neither is practical or achievable. Life is simpler when you finally decide who you are going to please. And the worst possible alternative is to live to please no one but yourself. The Bible warns, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead be modest in your thinking.” Romans 12:3 TEV.

Many things pressure you to conform to others’ demands and expectations. Resist the temptation of doing so. The Apostle Paul offers a practical self-inventory, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV. Obviously, Paul recognized a previous time when he was “still trying to please men,” and the inconsistency that resulted.

The proper conclusion is this: when you can serve both God and man, do so. When you cannot, serve and please God above all others. “Our aim is to please Him always . . for we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NLT. Never forget the One to whom you owe first allegiance.

The surrounding culture may press you to conform your attitudes, values, and conduct in less than exemplary ways; live as unto the Lord. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV. Current circumstances might seem to impose an urgency of attention they may not warrant; live above your present circumstance. An unhealthy family history may have enslaved you in habitual behaviors, struggling to please people who simply refuse to be pleased; live free of unjust expectations. Some have had the unfortunate experience of working for a boss you could not please, a relative from whom you never gained their approval, or a parent or spouse who never affirms you. That is sad, but not uncommon. Such experiences present lifestyle issues.

Ultimately, the only hope of pleasing others is to confidently know that you have first pleased God. Here is the Bible’s definitive guideline: “Finally, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You are doing this already, and we encourage you to do so more and more.” Read 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:1 NLT. After struggling unsuccessfully to please others, maybe your question would be, “How then can I please God?” Pleasing people is complicated; pleasing God is not. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV. See Romans 14:17-18 NIV.

The task is not yours alone; God gives you all that is required; you supply obedience. “May God equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:21 NIV. Paul’s answer was this, “. . we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way . .” Colossians 1:9-10 NIV. Paul then elaborates on what pleases God, “. . bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, strengthened with power, having endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks, brought into the Kingdom, and having redemption and the forgiveness of sins.” Read Colossians 1:11-14 NIV.

I love the simplicity with which the Bible described ancient Enoch, a man that walked with God, “Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Read Hebrews 11:5-6 (See Genesis 5:21-24).

Today, my prayer for you is that at life’s end, His testimony and yours will be that you pleased God.

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Purposeful

November 13th, 2013

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.”  Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “purposeful.”

Life will present situations confronting you with decisions which can impact and shape your future, for better or worse. Life is simpler when you predetermine what options are acceptable or unacceptable to you. Wise decisions are rarely made in the emotions of a challenging circumstance. Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy. There are issues of integrity, honesty, and morality that are best settled well before they are pressured by expediency.

After the siege and subsequent defeat of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, along with most of the best and brightest of his nation, were taken as captives to Babylon. See 2 Kings 24:10-16. Everyone has heard of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” There is much about prospering in adverse circumstances that can be learned from Daniel. There were subtle yet more dangerous things than lions that Daniel would face in Babylon. Daniel prospered without compromising either his faith or personal integrity. How did this young Israelite, taken captive in his youth, become a trusted counselor and confidant to multiple rulers of Babylon? Read Daniel 1:3-7 NKJV.

(1) Daniel experienced displacement – separated forcibly from every place familiar and everyone supportive. Nebuchadnezzar instructed, ”Bring young men . . who had ability to serve in the King’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Vs. 3-4. Your sense of place and person are significant. The intent was clear – eradication of Daniel’s history and radical re-education of his beliefs and behavior. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV/Romans 8:28-29 NIV. The issue is influence; stay connected to the people and places you know best and trust most. Wise decisions are best made in good company.

(2) Daniel refused to modify his appetites – provided with tastes and extravagance he could not provide himself. “And the King appointed for them a daily provision of the King’s delicacies . . and three years of training, so that . . they might serve the King.” Vs. 5/9-16. The issue is dependence; be wary of strong desires independent of Godly provision. The enemy will promise you what you don’t have; only later do you discover it was really what you don’t need.

(3) Daniel resisted a compromised identity – his name, connecting him to his family and religious heritage, was changed from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Vs. 6-7. The intent was diabolical, to alter his security in who he had been and establish a Babylonian identity. The issue is allegiance; do not be confused about your identity and destiny in Christ.

Faced with pressures to conform greater than will likely confront you or I, Daniel held a firm conviction, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself . .” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. Compromise is never an acceptable option. See 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV. To succeed in your spiritual life, you have be purposeful. When you “purpose in your heart not to defile [yourself],” every other decision becomes simpler. As a teen, I learned to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” There is nothing behind – or ahead of me – that I desire more than Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that your heart will be set fully on pleasing God.

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Labels and Contents

April 5th, 2011

“You are our letter . . known and read by everybody.” 2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV

“Labels and contents should agree accurately, especially when describing people.”

My thoughts today are about “labels and contents.”

Everyone appreciates people who are for real – neither superficial nor artificial – people who live with clarity and integrity. They know who they are and you find they are what they claim to be. There is a Bible verse that describes Christ-followers this simple way, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26 NKJV. Antioch was a city renowned for its slave auction, where  slaves were bought and paid for, marked as belonging to another and bound to another’s will and direction.

Something about those early Christ-followers’ allegiance and obedience to Christ properly defined them as “Christians – belonging to Christ.” It is important to occasionally examine whether that is how others would view our own allegiance and obedience to Christ. Paul settled that issue at his conversion on the Damascus road. Acts 9:3-9 NIV. Years later, Paul described his relationship to Jesus this way: “The Lord . . Whose I am and Whom I serve,” absolute allegiance and total obedience. Acts 27:23 NIV. Would you describe yourself that way? Would others?

Every Christ-follower accepts a sacred trust. It should be true of those who claim the name of Christ that, “what you see is what you get.” But is that always the case? Labels and contents should agree accurately, especially when describing people. “You are our letter . . known and read by everybody.” 2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV. What a label promises, the contents must deliver. Everyday life is such that people seem more surprised when a person or product actually delivers what was promised and expected, than when they don’t. That is sad.

The label should describe the contents accurately. What do you claim for yourself? Don’t ask lower expectations from others; strive for higher achievements. Exceed expectations; determine to give more, do more, and be more than you claim for yourself, and certainly more than others could ever require of you. What you appear to be should be what you truly are.

This is the simplest description of integrity: possessing character and evidencing conduct that match faithfully. When they don’t, correct your character; your conduct will be corrected accordingly. “The integrity of the upright guides them.” Proverbs 11:3 NIV. Character faithfully displays itself in corresponding behavior. We should live sincerely, described to others as Godly examples, “whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 NKJV.

Let me redirect my closing thought to how this idea of “labels and contents” might relate to any assessment of others. I am too prone to label others by mere impressions or assumptions about them, rather than finding who they really are. Stereotypes and prejudices result when you label a person, assuming your label correctly describes their content. Don’t draw conclusions about a person before learning the substance of that person’s heart and sincerity. Labeling others is inadvisable; the Bible calls that judging which it forbids. Read Matthew 7:1-5 NIV. Also Romans 14:4 NIV/1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT. Looking into one’s own heart can be a profitable practice.

My prayer for you today is that your character and example reflects Jesus to others.

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