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Success with Satisfaction

January 22nd, 2016

“Our only power and success come from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT.

Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success with satisfaction.”

Success is a more complex subject than might first be assumed. Sir Winston Churchill captured the process as, “moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Ultimately, success requires an untiring enthusiasm and expectation. Let success be your goal, but make satisfaction your measurement of success.

Success is a common, even innate, desire of the human spirit. God wills your success. About that fact, the Bible is clear. “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NASB. God wills you to enjoy financial sufficiency, ample health and strength, measured by a singular standard, “as your soul prospers.” “Our only power and success come from God.” Read 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 TLB. Apart from the spiritual dimension, whatever measure of success you achieve will be unsatisfactory. Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

Do not let the world around you dictate what success is for you. The apparent success of others may mislead you into assuming your success will look like theirs. The Bible warned, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV. The world measures success by tangible acquisitions, notable achievements, popular approval, others’ applause, or material gain. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT. The world’s standards are different from what God values.

You must decide to which you will give irreplaceable years of effort, energy, and expense. Establish your personal definition of success. Without Godly benchmarks for measuring, you may not know when you achieve it or recognize when you have not. Contentment and satisfaction with what you achieve is a more reliable measurement of success than the tangible rewards that result.

For me, where I find the greatest satisfaction and most prize any measure of “success” are family and ministry. I will count Gayle’s and my success by the fruit of our family’s lives, the faith and values we hold in common, enjoying and loving one another’s company, and our mutual love and service for the Lord and His Church. Our family is central to my definition of success with satisfaction.

As for ministry, I evaluate ministry on the twin bases of obedience and faithfulness to God’s call, having done what He asked and been faithful where He placed me. Honest appraisal reminds me that God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been the source of success.

Today, I pray for you to measure success by the satisfaction you find in doing God’s will.

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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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Live Selflessly

February 21st, 2014

“Let your good works shine out for all to see.” Matthew 5:16 NLT.

Love neither notice nor credit from men; both are addictive and destructive.

My thoughts and comments today are that you “live selflessly.”

How you live everyday is important; why you live the way you choose to live is even more important. Summing up the eight character qualities of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus described the uniqueness of those who exemplify the Kingdom of God as being, “the salt of the earth and light of the world.” Matthew 5:13-16. Salt and light have distinctive purposes, only of use and value when fulfilling their purposes – an appropriate metaphor for us and our use and value to the Kingdom of God on earth. A Godly life offers an enticing flavor to the blandness of life apart from Christ and brilliant illumination dispelling the darkness in which others live.

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16 NLT. Your life and mine are unique only when accomplishing the eternal purpose for which God intends. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT. It is important that you understand the measurement by which your life succeeds. Your purpose is always for, “all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” The first part becomes irrelevant if the latter part doesn’t occur. In an exemplary life, God is the One who is seen and praised.

If your motive is to be seen and praised by men, every effort remains inconsequential. “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12 NIV. A meaningful and satisfying life is lived, “for the praise of His glory.” Love neither notice nor credit from men; both are addictive and destructive.

I remember my Dad often quoting, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” (Harry Truman, 33rd president of the US 1884-1972). That is very true. “Having your conduct honorable among [others], that . . they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God . .” 1 Peter 2:12 NKJV. Your most successful achievements might well be the most noble, while you serve merely for His pleasure. But know this, nothing done in His name and for His glory will go unnoticed or unrewarded. “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19 NKJV.

Jesus had strong words about doing even the right things for the wrong reasons – to be seen of men. Matthew 23:5 NKJV. When the Pharisees gave, they did so for the applause of others; they prayed where others would hear and admire. Read Matthew 6:1-6 NIV. For their efforts, they received no reward from God. You live selflessly when you live for the applause and approval of One. See Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. This is a practical way that we can help ourselves and one another: “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT. Any outbursts lately?

My prayer for you today is that all you do is done in love and sincerity.

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Gifted

October 14th, 2013

“Stir up the gift of God which is in you.”  2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV.

The purer the gift of God within, the more humble the heart and life possessing it.

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

You have seen gifted people. They work with ease and assurance. Things seem to happen more effortlessly and successfully for them. They learn to expect success. Our son, Bruce, is an example; he is a master craftsman, building custom homes and church facilities large and small. The same task would baffle me. Bruce reads the plans, “sees” the structures as intended, understands the necessary engineering, and knows what building materials and skills are necessary to accomplish that. He is talented and experienced, but more. He is spiritually and naturally gifted with talents and skills that time and diligence have further developed.

God also designed your spiritual life to operate out of giftedness, both sovereign and supernatural. “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV. God has placed gifts in you equal to the calling and purpose He intends for you. Do not allow them to reside dormant and unused.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . .” James 1:17 NIV. Differentiate gifts from God for your personal blessing and edification from those gifts of God for your effective service. The Kingdom of God does not succeed because of your natural talents and human abilities; the best of those will ultimately be inadequate to His exceeding and eternal purposes. His Kingdom flourishes by the dedicated efforts of spiritually gifted people, submissive to Lordship and serving within His anointing.

The Apostle Peter wrote, “As each one (that means you) has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God . . Do not neglect the gift of God that is in you . .” 1 Peter 4:10/1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV. The more you recognize and respond to the God-given and Spirit-anointed gifts within you, the more confidently and effectively you will serve God.

God accepts the responsibility to provide you with what you need to do His will effectively, then instructs and directs you in their application. You are to accept the responsibility to discover, develop, and then implement your spiritual gifts and natural talents, “If anyone ministers, let them do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ . .” 1 Peter 4:11 NKJV. The ultimate goal is to exalt God, the Giver of gifts, not the gift nor yourself.

Paul’s message to the Christians at Rome is good counsel for us as well: “For I say, through the grace of God given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them . .” Romans 12:3/6 NKJV.

Here is what I have observed about gifted people: the purer the gift of God within, the more humble the heart and life possessing it. Young Timothy received good advice, “Do your best to win full approval in God’s sight, as a worker who is not ashamed of his work . .” 2 Timothy 2:15 TEV. Desire God’s approval above all else.

My prayer for you today is that you accept giftedness with neither boasting nor apology.

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Approval Ratings

October 12th, 2012

“Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God?” Galatians 1:10 NIV

The quest of the human spirit for approval finds realization in the affirming love of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “approval ratings.”

Even the youngest child seeks signs of approval from the most important people in their life, Mom and Dad. Whatever your age, you will not realize your full potential without your worth and abilities being recognized and affirmed. A person who lives with an approval deficit may seek recognition where they will least find it. When I was a young Dad, my stepfather, Warren – a father, church planter, and pastor of many years – gave me sound advice, “Every child needs lots of sincere ‘atta boys’ to grow up healthy and confident.” I have found that true of boys and girls alike, and plenty of adults as well. I am not sure you ever outgrow your need for others’ affirmation. Warren is a wise man and I saw his practical wisdom in the effect of his encouraging words in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Approval is an assurance you feel in your heart when affirming words are spoken by people who matter in your life. However, needing approval from others can become addictive with diminishing return. Paul recognized the subtle temptation to look more to men than to God, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I am still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ?” Galatians 1:10 NIV. Apparently, Paul once relied on the approval of men which was sometimes at odds with his obedience to God. Man’s approval can be difficult to earn, fleeting to keep, and woefully inadequate.

The common quest of the human spirit finds its fullest realization in the affirming, accepting love of God. “I care very little if I am judged by you . . indeed, I do not even judge myself . . it is the Lord who judges me.” Read 1 Corinthians 4:2-5 NIV. Leave your evaluation safely in God’s hands, with this confidence, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25 NIV.

I think any of us could admit to some conflicting mixture of motives in this regard. Everyone wants to be liked and desires others think well of them. Be careful. Be wise to the tyranny of others’ opinions, lest you acquire a need for their approval that is misdirecting. In politics, people in public office seem always to be worrying about “approval ratings.” Politically, they obsess over polls. There are endless opinion polls testing voters’ approval of political decisions and positions. In politics that may be unavoidable; in life that can be slavish.

There are times you cannot please men and God at the same time. When uncertain, please God. Whose opinion is most influential in what you do and why you do so? The approval of man is no easy achievement for the best of people, and can be fickle as well. Live with consideration and regard for others’ opinion, but live first and foremost for the Savior’s benediction, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Ultimately, only the Lord’s approval really matters.

My prayer for you today is that you live with a secure knowledge of God’s approval.

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