Posts Tagged ‘believe’

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

EDL Phil 4.19 

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Shoppers and Seekers

March 18th, 2015

“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10 NIV.

There is no lack for those who seek God with a whole heart.

My thoughts and comments today are about “shoppers and seekers.”

When a sales clerk asks, “Can I can help you,” most shoppers answer, “Just looking.” You may be just shopping because you don’t yet know specifically what you are looking for. It is essential to know what you are seeking for in life. Or maybe you are “just looking,” hoping you will stumble upon what satisfies? Life is more fruitful when you are a seeker “on a mission,” knowing what you want and where to find it. That seems a metaphor for life. I observe three different kinds of people.

In life, there are shoppers.

Some people are just shopping. They just wander, having a general idea of what they want, but not really knowing where they will find it. Some know they are looking for something, but just haven’t decided exactly what that is yet. So people try this and try that, sometimes successfully, but often not. People keep looking, or just give up, and accept what they have; that’s sad and unnecessary.

In life, there are seekers.

Some are seeking right things – success, satisfaction, meaning, belonging, or purpose – but looking in all the wrong places, trying in all the wrong ways. Some are seeking things that don’t satisfy, such as influence, approval, admiration, applause, or achievement; there is nothing wrong with those, except when you do so for the wrong reasons. Others seek lesser things, such as power, wealth, pleasure, fame, or recognition for all the wrong reasons as well. Sadly, even when succeeding, they fail.

In America, we can take a lot of things for granted; we seek for luxuries while much of the rest of the world pursues necessities, seeking survival and safety – survival from starvation or disease and safety from political, racial, or religious violence and wars, without knowing there is a Savior who died for their sins, and a Father Who wants to bless and provide for them. Read 1 John 4:11/John 3:16-17.

EDL pix Psa 34.10Most importantly, let us be seekers after God. “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  Psalm 34:10 NIV.

Meditate on that wondrous promise. The Almighty God said, “I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me.” Proverbs 8:17 NKJV. That’s the company in which I want to be found, not casually looking but actively, aggressively, and obediently seeking all that God offers. “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13-14 NIV. Spiritually, are you a shopper or a seeker? There is no lack for those who seek God with a whole heart. Seek for God in the manner that God seeks for you – intently,lovingly, and enduringly. Read Jesus’ Parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. Luke 15:1-31.

Consider these practical admonitions from Scripture. “Seek His face always.” Psalm 105:3-4 NIV; “Seek Him with all your heart and soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29-31 NKJV; “Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness.” Matthew 6:33-34 NIV; “Seek, and you will find.” Luke 11:9-1o; “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is.” Colossians3:1-2; “Seek the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 NIV. The Bible offers both a promise and a warning, “He who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him . . Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” Hebrews 11:6/Isaiah 55:6.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will find all for which you seek, when you seek for God.

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Truth and Trust

January 17th, 2014

“This word [from God] continues to work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT.

Trust the truth God entrusted to you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “truth and trust.”

Unquestionably, you and I live in a generation of hyper-information. Satellites provide internet, television, radio, and phones that connect us with information that is immediate, in a quantity that is immeasurable, and on a scale that is global. Within that incalculable capacity, your challenge is the ability to distinguish truth from the unending opinions, misinformation, or speculation that abounds.

Every day, truth is assaulted by opinions drawn from little more than personal whim or prejudice, or partial truths mixed with so much error as to leave the truth unrecognizable, or deliberate misinformation that is scandalously untrue. What is true? Where is truth you can believe in? In the shadows and fog of all the noise, God’s Word is a beacon of truth.

At the end of his life, Moses said, “Ascribe greatness to our God . . A God of truth, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NKJV. Moses knew the Lord to be, “A God of truth . . righteous and upright.” Truth is what we need. People complicate the matter of belief, but it is simple really. Either God is true, or what He says is not. But if God be true, His Word cannot be otherwise. See Romans 3:2-4 NIV.

I have observed: “You do not choose what you believe; you first choose who you believe and that choice determines what you believe.” Choose to believe God. ”Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and . . you have known the holy Scriptures.” See 2 Timothy 3:14-15 NIV/Hebrews 13:7 NKJV. Trust the truth God entrusted to you.

Who you know and trust ultimately forms your beliefs and shapes your opinions. From those come your convictions, felt and held deeply. Conviction of truth is not imposed upon you; truth resonates in your spirit and is recognized and embraced by you. I have chosen to believe God; therefore I believe the Word of God is divinely inspired, ultimately and eternally true, and both practical and powerful in its application. See 2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT/2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV.

Paul commended the Thessalonians, “When we preached His message to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own words. You accepted what we said as the very Word of God – which of course it was. And this Word continues to work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT. This morning, Paul’s assuring words intrigued me: “. . this Word continues to work in you who believe.” Cherish it; read it; study it, meditate on it, obey it; and trust it. As you do, truth will continue to work deep within your spirit and mind, imparting God’s wisdom and understanding. When you don’t feel it, or see it, or understand it, or wonder if it is, His “Word continues to work in you who believe.”

God won’t quit; His Word won’t fail.“If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.” Colossians 1:21-23 NKJV. God’s Word continues to work in those who continue steadfast in His Word. See Isaiah 55:11 NIV. When you embrace God’s Word, you release God Word to work until completion. Philippians 1:6/2:13 NKJV.

The Bible is Truth, and in its pages are found the incomparable wisdom and knowledge of God. The Bible teaches principles of how truth is to be applied in practical ways and ordinary situations. Jesus taught that a life that endures remains unshaken by all that changes around you, established firmly upon the Word of God. Read Matthew 7:24-27 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that truth continues to work deep in your heart and life.

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Doubt and Unbelief

December 17th, 2013

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”  Mark 9:24 NIV.

Belief is a faith-decision that reinforces your conviction about truth.

My thoughts and comments today are about “doubt and unbelief.”

Doubt is not uncommon; questions and uncertainty afflict us all. Believing isn’t as always easy as you wish. Circumstances conspire against confidence in what you believe, usually at inopportune times. Unanswered questions, past disappointments, discouraging opinions, ambivalent feelings, or other factors – inside and around you – present a challenge to unwavering conviction.

In some moments, doubt and belief may briefly co-exist. It may be helpful to think of doubt as a temporary condition, prelude to the more settled disposition of unbelief. Doubt may evidence you are processing your desire to believe; unbelief occurs when you surrender to your doubts.

Mark relates a story of a weary, distraught father who brought his young son first to the disciples to be healed, and then to Jesus. Read Mark 9:17-27 NIV. The father’s request was simple, “If you can do anything . . help us.” The need was real; the father was hopeful. Yet doubt lingered. He faced a consequential moment of decision. Doubt is an unsettling feeling; belief is a faith-decision that reinforces your conviction about truth. Moments of doubt do not disqualify you, unless you cling to them even in opposition to truth.  

Jesus’ response was equally as simple, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Your decision to believe is important. This man was honest. He knew that belief and faith are not matters you can fake. His response describes the emotional ambivalence every one has felt in some situation. “Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.’” Mark 9:24 NKJV/NIV. His expression of anguish and emotion reveals the inner struggle between belief and unbelief. Yet, he professes his strong intent to believe even while confessing his struggle. See Hebrews 11:6 NLT.

Your will alone may not overcome disbelief, unless fortified with the enduring Word of God and your faith. “Help me overcome my unbelief,” elicits God’s assistance every time. Across the years, I have observed that people get this backwards, tending to “believe their doubts,” rather than truth. Both doubt and belief are choices one makes. The good news is this: God gives you the power to choose. Such choices are not made in a vacuum, but in the broader context of your humanity, history, and circumstance. I have become convinced that you do not really choose what you believe; you choose who you believe and that ultimately determines what you believe. Choose to believe God and His Word, whatever the confusion of your feelings at the moment.

You might recall Peter’s brief experience of walking on water. See Matthew 14:22-33 NKJV. On nothing more than Jesus’ words, he bravely began his miraculous walk, until “he saw that the wind was boisterous . . afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” Matthew 14:30 NKJV. Peter’s courage was, in a moment’s time, overwhelmed by his misinterpretation of reality.

Like the distraught father, he struggled with belief and doubt. Safe and sustained as Jesus took him by the hand, Jesus asked, “Why did you doubt?” The word, “doubt,” comes from a descriptive, Greek word, “distazo,” which means, “two standings.” The word indicates trying to hold two contradictive ideas. See James 1:6-8 NIV. The place to rest your doubts is trusting firmly in the truth of God, in His character and Word. You can choose to believe God even while dealing with doubt.

My prayer for you today is: do not doubt the whisper of truth God speaks to your heart.

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Essential or Expendable?

December 6th, 2013

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his own soul?”  Mark 6:36 NIV.

Everything ever needing to be done for your salvation was done on a cross by a Savior.

My thoughts and comments today ask a question, “essential or expendable?”

Life is filled with questions. Some arise from mere curiosity; some, however, are of eternal importance. There are many things you might like to know, but there are a few things about which you absolutely must be clear. Distinguishing between “want to know” and “need to know” is basic. Reading the Gospels, you notice that Jesus asked, and was asked, quite a lot of questions. Since my youth, I have pondered Jesus’ probing question, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37 NIV.

In Jesus’ estimation, the vastly disproportionate value between the “whole world” and one’s “own soul” is no exaggeration at all; your soul is of eternal significance. And yet every day, people sell their soul for things of marginal value temporally and no value eternally. Linger over the word, “forfeit,” in Jesus’ question. I suggest such a forfeiture describes, “The voluntary surrender of something invaluable by deliberate choice or benign neglect.” Who would be so foolish as to regard the eternal so casually?

I think benign neglect is the more common and the least understandable. Little wonder that the Bible warns, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away . . how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation . .” Hebrews 2:1-4 NKJV. Drifting, like neglect, is usually incremental, unnoticeable until time is past and opportunity lost.

In the matter of your soul, it is wise to distinguish what is essential from what is expendable. The account of Esau and Jacob, Abraham’s grandsons, is among the tragic stories of the Old Testament. Weary and driven by his appetite, Esau traded his birthright to Jacob, his brother, for an immediate and enticing bowl of stew. How impetuous; how shortsighted; how tragic; how irreversible. Read Genesis 25:27-34/27:1-38 NKJV.

Jim Elliott (1926-1957), a young missionary martyred by a savage Ecuadorian tribe, had written in his journal years earlier, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Your brief life and all you have, however valuable, pales in comparison to the immeasurable worth of your eternal soul and destiny of living forever with God. See 1 Tim 2:3-5 NIV.

The eternal question which must be asked and answered by each individual is, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30 NIV. There seem to be as many answers to that as there are religions. This is an area where opinion, however sincere, is just not enough. You need to know God’s Word. The Bible’s answer is, “’Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house . . he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.” Acts 16:31-34 NIV.

Your own efforts only make salvation elusive – more about what you don’t do, or earned by your best, but futile, efforts such as: religion, good works, charitable deeds, and such like. God makes it this simple: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Read Romans 10:9-13 NIV. Everything ever needing to be done for your salvation was done on a cross by a Savior. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us . .” Titus 3:4-5 NIV. See also Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.

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