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Living Confidently

July 24th, 2013

“The effect of righteousness will be . . confidence forever.”  Isaiah 32:17 NIV

Righteousness is the only sure foundation for living confidently.

My thoughts and comments today are about “living confidently.”

Don’t you admire those people who exude confidence, never appearing to wrestle with self-doubt or uncertainty?  You can live confidently. Not everyone does. Some people seem to have ample confidence while others are sorely lacking. Have you wondered about the secret of living confidently? We know what confidence looks like; we don’t always know its source. You can counterfeit an air of confidence; many people do, hoping no one sees behind their false bravado.

Don’t confuse arrogance with confidence, your own or others’. Today’s culture would suggest, “Success breeds confidence.” Some might propose, “Affluence affords confidence.” Another may advise, “Experience creates confidence.” In some measure and for some people, those might increase one’s confidence, while for others they simply produce a troubling fear of failure. Masquerading as over-confidence, arrogance can often be just a coping mechanism for fear. What is your fear, failing in the opinion of others or failing in the eyes of God? Your answer reveals where you derive confidence.

You might think confidence results from past successes, or natural talent, or developed abilities, or the supporting estimation of others. Those can be contributing factors. If you have proven abilities, you develop an expectation of further success but no guarantee of it. If you succeed in a particular endeavor, you might feel more confident in similar efforts. But enduring confidence is based on more than your own skills, accomplishments, or previous experience.

Confidence rests on convictions – convictions about God and about yourself being safe in God’s love and will. Read Romans 12:1-2 NIV/Hebrews 10:35-36 NKJV. Confidence is only as strong as the foundation upon which it rests. The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, wrote, “The effect of righteousness will be . . confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:17 NIV. Righteousness is the only sure foundation for living confidently, both presently and forever. “For we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.” Hebrews 13:18 NKJV. When you know all is well between you and God, your confidence strengthens and solidifies.

Strengthen Godly conviction and you discover confidence. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV. When you are persuaded with firm conviction that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, you will be confident that you can become who He says you are and do what He calls you to do. Solomon wisely wrote, “For the Lord will be your confidence.” Proverbs 3:26 NIV.

I think David models this inner confidence that steadies one’s heart, whatever the situation of the moment, “Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord; that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:3-5 NKJV. Knowing God and His Word is where you find confidence.

My prayer for you this day is that you remain steadfast in His love.

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Today

June 6th, 2012

“This is the day that the Lord has made.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

Today holds the remedy for your checkered history and the point of entry into your destiny.

My thoughts and comments today are about “today.”

Life can seem unmanageable, often more than you think you can handle. Your past can be cluttered with too much unfinished business, the path ahead filled with too many responsibilities. Life is about today, who you are and what you do today. Your life is not altogether about the facts of your history or the potential of your destiny, yet both of those are greatly affected – positively or negatively – by anything, and maybe everything, you do today. You can reinforce your history or rewrite its predictions. You can sell your future cheaply or invest in achieving its potential.

Today is your opportunity to write a new chapter in the ongoing story of your life. Sure there were mistakes you’ve made, things you would have done better if you had been wiser. Well, today is a great time to fix that. Do better; don’t repeat your mistakes; learn from them. The Psalmist David knew about destiny and history. No one was promised a greater future; few have had a more irregular history. To David’s credit, he would not let the story of his life conclude with his failures. Read Psalm 32/51. His story is a record of repentance and redemption.

Through repentance and redemption, your history can become His story. Listen and learn from David’s counsel: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NIV. Today can be your fresh start. Stop reliving your record, rehearsing your mistakes, regretting your failures. Today is all you have been given right now. It is not about what you did in the past or how well you intend to do in the days ahead; it is just about this one day! God has a sterling record of redeeming people’s sad histories, and is equally adept at engineering magnificent destinies. “This is the day the Lord has made!”

Like David, the Apostle Paul had some history he would like to have forgotten as well. Read Acts 9:1-6 NKJV. On that road to Damascus, Paul met God face to face and everything changed. I have found that most people cannot turn their life around without divine intervention. Either arrogance or ignorance, or both, would make a person want to attempt such a life change without God. Paul found the answer to successful conformation to the likeness of the Savior, “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 thought crucial was expressed in three equally necessary actions: laying aside everything inhibiting about yesterday, living today with faithfulness and anticipation, and filling tomorrows with Godly effort to fulfill God’s calling. Today holds the remedy for your checkered history and the point of entry into your destiny.

My prayer for you today is to live this day rejoicing and each that follows with gladness.

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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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Opinions and Truth

February 7th, 2012

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV

Treat opinions lightly; trust facts selectively, but hold truth tenaciously.”

My thoughts today are about “opinions and truth.”

You must learn to process and differentiate between opinions, facts, and truth. They are rarely all the same. Everyone holds opinions; most have some facts. You must know truth. I’ve noticed that some opinions simply cloud the facts and confuse the listener. Truth does neither. Even facts can be misused in ways that are misleading. Truth will never lead you astray, if it’s God’s truth. All others have only a varying combination of those, a mixture not always easily separated even by the individual.

Humility should teach you to treat opinions lightly, trust facts selectively, but hold truth tenaciously. I think people are often as bewildered as Pontius Pilate was as he was questioning Jesus. The Jewish leaders used facts selectively, mixed those generously with their opinions, but had no idea whatsoever of the truth about Jesus. Jesus was inconvenient to them and a threat to all they stood for. Jesus said to Pilate, “I have come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate responded, “What is truth?” Read John 18:35-38 NKJV. That question hangs in the air still today, waiting for your answer. Those who know the answer are a joyous example, “I rejoice greatly . . you walk in the truth that is in you. I have no greater joy that to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:3-4 NKJV.

The problem is that people are always trying to figure out who is telling the truth, because they don’t know where truth is found. It is not found in people’s opinions; truth – reliable and unchanging- is found in God and His Word. “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV. If you are walking without the truth of God’s Word, you are stumbling in the dark. In every situation, do you stop and ask, “What does God’s Word say about this?” When you know God, have confidence in His character, prize His will and purpose, and count His Word supreme, truth rings true when you hear it in your spirit. Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT.

When opinions conflict – opinions of your own or others’ – or when facts contradict each other, be true to the truth. Go back to what is eternal and unchanging. A recent ABC News poll found that while churches are growing, many among congregations have an “eclectic theology,” believing in both the resurrection but allowing the possibility of reincarnation, believing God guides through prayer but also through horoscopes. Hosea, an Old Testament prophet wrote, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge . . you have ignored the Law of your God.” Hosea 4:6 NIV.

That is alarming to me, and can only be attributed to an ignorance of God’s Word and/or an arrogance of equating personal or popular opinion with the Bible. It is reported that “while devout Muslims commit themselves to memorize the Koran, the average Christian does not read the Bible once a week.” Is there a wonder then why people have not trained themselves to recognize truth?

Remember this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV. The Bible is more than opinion or fact; it’s God’s truth!

My prayer for you today is that you will never assume truth to be only an opinion.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

May 20th, 2010

“Our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NIV

“Without God at work in your life, nothing truly works as it could.”

My thoughts today are about “credit where credit is due.”

Have you ever felt inadequate, but hoped no one else would think that about you? The answer most likely is yes! Everyone does. You know why? Because everyone is – at one time or another, and in one way or another. The answer is not your getting smarter, or working harder, or working smarter; the answer is your learning to trust in God’s abilities, not in your own. Of course, it is essential to realize that God’s empowering strength and ability is only available within the circle of His will and purpose.

One of my all time, favorite descriptions of God is this: “Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT. Mull that over until you begin to grasp the immeasurable scope of God’s abilities. The answer to your ample inabilities is found always in God’s great ability.

“We say this because we have confidence in God through Christ. There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God; it is God who made us capable. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Today’s English Version. Read that slowly and marvel at these words: “confidence – capable – capacity – made us capable!” Isn’t that what you really want to be? Of course, you do! Did you read the sharp contrast between “nothing in us” and “God made us capable”?

Without God at work in your life, nothing truly works as it could. Failures don’t struggle with that; they are all too painfully aware of their own inadequacies. Successful people do struggle with that! Successful people often point to lots of things as proof of their abilities and sufficiency. But is that so? People want to feel that their own cleverness and hard work has brought them their measure of success, with little or no help from God. Is there anything more small and unappreciative than to knowingly take credit for what someone else has done?

Here’s God’s warning. “For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in . . that is the time to be careful . . You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ Remember the Lord your God, for it is God who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” Read Deuteronomy 8:6-20 NIV/NLT. Give glory to God!

I once heard it said, “A self-made man has a fool for his creator.” Only the arrogance of a fool would assume that God has little or nothing to do with their opportunities, favor, and accomplishments. It is the wisest of people who recognize God as the source of “whatever is good and perfect (that) comes to us from God above . .” James 1:17 NLT.

My prayer for you is that you celebrate every talent and give God the glory and praise.

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