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Passions and Priorities

September 6th, 2017

  Your passion determines your priorities.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV  

My comments today are about, “Passions and Priorities.”

God is not elusive nor the path to God concealed. But the spiritual opposition to your seeking God is intense, both externally and internally. An evil trinity of spiritual forces oppose you. The world around you, your flesh within you, and the devil against you all conspire to turn your heart to other pursuits more immediately pleasing.

God described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 13:22 NKJV. What a wonderful way that God described David. Your passion determines your priority. Your priority reveals your passion. David’s passion for God fueled his priority to know and please God. “You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV. Any serious pursuit of God must be done with earnestness and priority.

Jesus was clear and specific, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. How would others describe your appetite and thirst for God today? Earnestly and diligently are apt descriptions of how you should be seeking God’s highest and best for your life.

David described his passion for God as he wrote, ”My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:8 KJV. Seeking God is not for the easily distracted or readily discouraged, and never for the merely casual or curious. Such is the path reserved for those for whom life without God is not enough.

You will earnestly seek for what you believe is of incomparable value and for which you will accept no substitute. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask [according to His will] – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV.

Jesus presented a Biblical progression for those determined to seek God with whole hearted devotion and single-minded purpose. Read Luke 11:9-10 NIV. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Asking is elementary. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 NIV. Asking reflects your priority of God’s will and your patience with God’s timing.

Jesus also said, “Seek, and you will find.” Seeking involves attitude as much as activity, a time while the Spirit refines the sincerity of your heart. “[God] rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. As my Dad often reminded me, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.”

Jesus concluded by saying, “Knock, and the door will be opened unto you.” Knocking indicates your anticipation more than insistence. Jesus concluded with this promise, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to cultivate a heart that seeks after God always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Weakness and Strength

June 20th, 2017

Weakness does not limit God as much as your proud strength.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Weakness and Strength.”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.” Hebrews 11:34 NIV. 

We have a three year old great grandson, who is a typical boy, full of energy and self confidence. His insistent, “I can do it myself,” is part of his ample vocabulary. Of course, there is more that he can’t do than he knows. But his growing confidence is important as he tries new skills and challenges, and grows by his discovered abilities and exposed inabilities. In life, he will recognize that he needs and wants help. Obviously, with assistance he can do more than he is yet capable of doing without our help. Independence is not limited to preschoolers. He will learn that he needs help, and he will discover that he learns and achieves more when he accepts help.

We are all a mixture of weaknesses and strengths. And you possess more potential than you have yet comprehended. You are more capable than you have imagined or chosen to believe about yourself. I have observed that people who achieve remarkable things may not have been others’ obvious choice to do so. The difference is this. In God, they learned He could turn their weakness into His strength.

The Bible describes ordinary people making extraordinary achievements, “Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Hebrews 11:33-34 NIV. Without God, they could have done none of those things.

Paul wrestled with some malady that he felt limiting. Desiring to serve God more fully, he earnestly and repeatedly sought God to remove the source of his self-perceived weakness. Finally, he understood when, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul discovered, Therefore, . .  when I am weak, then I am strong.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV. That may seem to defy logic, as we understand it. Your weakness does not limit God as much as your proud strength can. Will you dare to believe that God is almighty enough to be undiminished and unhampered by your weaknesses, inadequacies, and limited abilities? “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10 NKJV.

Consider this. You are more limited by reliance on your perceived strengths than God is limited by what are your known weaknesses. When you understand your lack and limits, you will rely more upon God. However, when you feel self-sufficient like my grandson, you insist, “I can do it myself.” Weakness and strength are not mutually exclusive, as is often assumed. Everyone of us is ordinary. But our God is extraordinary. The secret is to entirely commit your ordinary self to an extraordinary God; “To Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to have persistent faith in our God Who is Omnipotent.

Christian Communications 2017-7307

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Needs and Wants

May 4th, 2016

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

What God withholds, you are best without.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “needs and wants.”

We all have needs and wants. Our difficulty is distinguishing between those; our insistence on satisfying both makes those feel ambiguously similar. God has promised to supply your needs. “And My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus . . Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Philippians 4:19/Hebrews 4:16 NKJV. Sometimes, your wants incorrectly masquerade as needs. But God never promised to provide all you want; wants are forever changing, and many times could be unwise for you. With your wants, you must trust God to know and choose what is best for you.

I have heard it said, “It never hurts to ask.” With God, there is no constraint about your asking. In the context of persistence in prayer, Jesus encouraged, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 NIV. Read Luke 11:5-13 NLT. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 NIV. How sad it would be if your needs were not met merely because you didn’t bother to ask God.

Beyond the fact that God relates His generosity to your request, asking is a healthy expression of humility as well as an honest confession of reliance upon God rather than yourself. But be advised; God’s promises are not blank checks you can fill in and cash whenever you want. The Bible is clear about times when God does not respond to your requests as you wish. In fact, James also addressed times when you ask but God does not provide, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3 NIV. What God withholds, you are best without.

God is both loving and wise, a Father who delights to meet your needs, and more. But He is not a doting Father who gives you what you want rather than what is best for you. Having God’s attention is not complicated. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. God’s liberality is forever aligned with His will. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 NKJV. Soak your heart and spirit in the Word of God.

In addition to being persuaded of the will of God, Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 NIV. Believe that what God wills to do, He will do. “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” 1 John 3:21-22 NIV. Your needs are provided by the One described as, “. . Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to trust your wants to His love and place your needs in His hands.

Christian Communications 2016

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Asking God’s Help

February 20th, 2016

 

“With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NKJV.

Ask for what will most give God pleasure to provide.

My thoughts today are about, “asking God’s help.”

Asking seems such a simple thing; yet people often seem reluctant to ask for assistance. We prefer the illusion of self-sufficiency. Maybe we think our own efforts – experience, abilities, and resources – should be adequate. I am not sure if it is being too proud to ask or if it is a misguided insistence on self-reliance, trying to take care of ourselves before we “bother God” with our needs. God is never bothered by sincere requests for His help. “He who comes to God must believe . . that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

It is foolish to presume that God can’t provide your needs, or worse yet, that He won’t. Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11-12 NIV. Love chooses the practical expression of generosity. Giving finds its greatest joy in providing what is needed, or even most desired. Let God be your first resource rather than your last. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Your Heavenly Father is saddened when you fail to ask Him for what you lack and need. James, the brother of Jesus, framed the problem with words of both counsel and caution. “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:3 NLT. James saw the problem of unanswered prayer as either failure to ask or selfish motives; both are easy to correct. Ask for what you believe will most give God pleasure to provide.

Speaking of common, everyday concerns, Jesus said, “These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Luke 12:30-31 NLT. He expects only the simplest thing of you. All you have to do is ask, “anything according to His will . . and you know you will have what you asked.” 1 John 5:14-15.

Do not be hesitant to ask, but trust His sovereignty and goodness, and then rest content. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to feel free to ask, confident to trust, and grateful to receive.

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The Sacred Quest

September 9th, 2014

“Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8 NKJV.

Spiritual attainment requires serious intention.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the sacred quest.”

A meaningful Christian life is not found by curious or casual inquiry. Any serious pursuit of God requires sincerity and priority. God is neither elusive nor is the path to Him concealed, but the opposition to your doing so is intense, internally and externally. There is a sacred path reserved to those for whom life without God is not enough; it is a path for the decisive and determined.

When Jesus’ description of suffering and sacrifice fell unpleasantly upon the offended ears of those who looked only for easy paths, the crowds dwindled and Jesus asked His disciples if they would also turn away. I love Peter’s prompt response, “Lord, to whom shall we go, for You only have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. What you believe to be of inestimable value and for which there is no suitable substitute is worthy of whole hearted passion.

David pledged, O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You . . My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:1 NIV/8 KJV. Spiritual attainment requires serious intention. Things of spiritual value do not come cheaply; their very cost measures their eternal worth. God Himself described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 7:22.

In Jesus’ story about earnest, undiscourageable persistence, He defined the heart’s quest as a simple, progressive process. Read Luke 11:5-10. (1) “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you . . for everyone that asks receives.” Asking is an elementary step for a life that desires God’s best. Jesus said, “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Read Matthew 6:8-13. Prayer is the process of uncovering your real needs and discovering God as their true source of supply. Asking is not to persuade God to be benevolent; asking prepares you to be receptive.

(2) “And I say to you . . seek, and you will find . . he who seeks, finds.” There is a natural progression in your earnest pursuit of God that is both purposeful and passionate. Here the element of effort is included. As you persist, the Spirit examines your true desires and faith. Of yourself, what are you willing to give, or give up, in your quest for God?

(3)“And I say unto you . . knock, and it will be opened unto you . . to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” A further progression of spiritual intensity involves the element of perseverance. Persevere in prayer and faith; if you can be distracted or discouraged, you will be. “And you will seek Me and find Me when you will search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13.  This is Jesus’ reasoning, “If you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

David’s personal affirmation and expectation was, “You are my God; earnestly I seek You . . My soul will be satisfied!” Psalm 63:1/5 NIV. The soul which is content and confident in God will be satisfied with God.

Today, my prayer for you is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly, whatever sacrifice that requires.

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