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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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A Living Word

May 3rd, 2013

“They received the Word with readiness . . and searched the Scriptures daily.” Acts 17:11 NKJV.

A Godly life is the living application of eternal truth.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a living Word.”

There is a difference when you are “into” something, in contrast to being casual or curious. You can browse some books and that is sufficient, while another book so piques your interest that you carefully read every sentence, hardly moving to the next chapter without processing what you have read. The Bible is like the latter. See Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV.

Unlike other books, the Bible is not read merely for an intellectual grasp of its information. Life is not an academic process; a full and successful life is found in what you do and who you are. Be as those Christ-followers who, “. . received the Word with readiness . . and searched the Scriptures daily.” Acts 17:11 NKJV. The Bible is God’s Word to conform hearts, rather than inform heads. The power of Scripture is found in its living application to your daily life. That’s why Jesus said, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 NKJV. To do that, you must choose to get “into” the Word, prizing its truth, seeking its meaning, and applying its principles in your life consistently.

A Godly life is the living application of eternal truth – God’s truth. “For the Word of God is living and powerful . .” Hebrews 4:12 NKJV. Paul warned young Timothy about those who have “a form of godliness but denying its power . . always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.´ 2 Timothy 3:5/7 NKJV. The power of true Godliness is found in the life that reflects God’s Word in practical ways. Job explained the process, “My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept His ways and without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of His lips. I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily food.” Job 23:11-12 NIV.

When you treasure His words in your heart, God permits circumstances that provide opportunity to practice the truth that He is building into your life. It takes time to change ingrained, character traits. Old habits are not broken easily, nor are new habits formed in a day. Reading a truth does not produce instant change. Change and growth come as you learn to apply truth in practical ways – when your thinking, choices, and reactions are shaped by truth. You become a living word to others; “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by everybody.” 2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV.

You learn to love by loving people not easily loved. You develop patience by accepting delays and irritations with grace, trusting the Lord’s timing. You learn peace by choosing tranquility in God’s rest, even in troubling moments. You discover joy when you learn that real joy is in God’s care, not your circumstances. Truth that you read becomes living truth as you encounter situations, and people, where you choose to do the right thing instead of your natural inclinations. As you search God’s Word, ask yourself, “How can this Scripture help me be a little more like Jesus today?”

My prayer for you today is: have a hunger for God’s Word that nothing else can satisfy.

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Keep Looking Up

May 1st, 2013

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“I lifted my eyes to Heaven and my understanding returned to me.” Daniel 4:34 NKJV.

Your answers are above, where God rules and wisdom abides.

My thoughts and comments today are to “keep looking up.”

Life can get messy and feel out of control. You can lose your way without knowing where to look for direction. You can despair without seeking encouragement and reassurance. There are times you just won’t know where to turn for help. Sometimes, family and friends try to help but their help doesn’t help. Bewildering times will occasionally impose on your life. Or you may have just lost your confidence or sense of direction briefly.

But there are also moments that are self-imposed, when false concerns of privacy or pride cocoon you from the answers you lack and the help you need. Often, you struggle alone, afraid or unwilling to confide in another. That’s called pride, usually. Pride is a delusion of self-sufficiency. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 29:23 NKJV.

Listen to the words of a person who learned the hard way. A powerful but prideful Babylonian king’s words were these: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me . . and I praised and honored Him who lives forever . . those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” Daniel 4:34/37 NKJV. There is a God in Heaven who understands who you are, knows where you are, and can make sense of all that confuses you. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5-7 NKJV. There is grace to be found in the midst of your confusion.

If you look elsewhere for the answers you need, you are looking in the wrong directions. As Nebuchadnezzar learned, wisdom comes from above when one is humble enough to seek for it. See James 1:5 NIV. “The wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.” James 3:17 NLT. I value a simple, practical definition of wisdom, “Wisdom is the ability to see your situation from God’s perspective.” David expressed the truth of that statement as well. Read Psalm 73:1-17 NIV. God’s counsel is simple; “Keep looking up.” In God’s presence, truth brings clarity.

Typically, it’s natural to look everywhere else before looking where any search for wisdom should begin. For answers, we first look inward for clarity and understanding we do not possess. Failing, we look outward – often indiscriminately – to anyone who ventures an opinion, compounding our confusion. Your answers are above, where God rules and wisdom abides. Look upward!

Read the Bible; the Bible is rich with practical truth, opening the wisdom of Heaven to you. Meditate on Scripture. See Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Trust the Spirit; He is a personal tutor Jesus described as, “the Spirit of truth [Who] will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13 NIV. Pray and worship; they are critical practices, opening your spirit to know God’s voice. Seek Godly fellowship; share life with people who share and support your faith. Read Hebrews 10:23-25 NKJV. Be true to the truth; it sets you free. Read John 8:32 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you look to God for wisdom each day in every situation.

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Lost Happens

August 6th, 2012

“Your ears shall hear a word . . saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV

Without God to guide you, you will inevitably get lost.

My thoughts and comments today are that “lost happens.”

On a trip celebrating our recent anniversary, Gayle and I just returned from a few days on the Northeastern seaboard in Boston, Gloucester, and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Getting from the Boston Airport to our hotel in an outlying suburb proved challenging. We had directions but the area was totally unfamiliar to us. We had a hotel reservation, an address, and a rental car – and Boston’s evening rush hour traffic. Oh yes, did I mention we had a map and GPS, thankfully? There were a few inevitable ‘turn around and go back” moments. My wrong turns made the drive more tense and took more time than would have been needed. I remember the sense of relief arriving safely at our “home away from home” for a few days.

Then we decided to have dinner in Gloucester, a charming seaside village north of Boston, most known for the Atlantic-fishing Gloucester men (and the George Clooney movie, “Perfect Storm”). Need I mention I missed turns as well as made wrong turns on our trip back after dark? There weren’t many turns, but I went north when I should have gone south or east when I should have gone west – wandering and wondering if I would find our hotel again in the unfamiliar countryside? There were more adventures, but I will leave those for another time. My wife’s careful navigation and that reassuring voice on the GPS brought us safely home, eventually.

This is not a travelogue; there is a point and application I will make. We would have been so lost without reliable directions from the welcome voice on our GPS. The GPS knew the directions we needed; we knew we needed those directions. Life is much like that. You will find yourself needing accurate directions. You can assume that you know how to do what you need to do and how to get where you need to go. And sometimes you will; but sometimes you won’t. And you can confuse those times that you are and you are not, wasting a lot of time and effort needlessly.

The prophet Isaiah was a voice to a nation that had lost their way, preparing them for confusing times that lay ahead for them. God reassuringly spoke through the prophet a promise that is still true today for you, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV. Without God to guide you, you will inevitably get lost. You won’t mean to be lost; lost just happens.

How does God direct your life? The Bible is God’s inspired and anointed Word teaching you how life is to be lived with certainty, peace, and joy. Its wisdom is unequalled; its truth abiding; its directions reliable. Read it daily; study it devotionally; follow it diligently; rely on it constantly. The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV. The very words describe a journey. Read Psalm 19:7-11 NKJV.

God has given His Holy Spirit to live within you to instruct and direct you. The Bible says, “The Spirit of truth . . dwells with you and will be in you . . When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you in all truth.” John 14:17/16:13 NKJV. When the Spirit of God is directing you, there is peace and confidence. He will always instruct you in the ways of God and direct you in the right paths.

My prayer for you today is that you know where you are going and who you are following.

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