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Contentment and Confidence

October 18th, 2018

The important things in life are not things.  

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Contentment and  Confidence.”

Contentment is not found in how much you have, nor in how much of a surplus you enjoy. However much you have will never be enough, apart from God’s generous provision. Contentment is found in your full confidence that God is your ample provider, Jehovah Jireh. The Apostle Paul was assuring, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

Years ago, I was challenged by a quote attributed to Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher. Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” How much must a person have to be content? That is a sufficiently important question that every person needs to answer honestly and accurately. When is enough enough? Usually, the answer is,  just a little more. Answered correctly, your answer can counteract a latent insecurity and subtle greed that conflicts with your desire for contentment. Insecurity whispers to all of us that we need enough, and then defines enough as more than what is truly adequate.

And even when you acquire what you think are necessary resources and gather more than enough stuff, greed still suggests that you require a little more while falsely reassuring that you deserve the extra you desire. So, a never-ending cycle is created, wanting more while trying to have enough. You work to feel secure, then reward yourself with more than you need. And, the result is a futile search, a never-ending quest for more.

Otherwise, your quest reduces your joy and pleasure for what you have and dampens your gratitude for what you have already received. Striving to accumulate and store more, becomes an insufficient goal for life, ultimately exhausting to the human spirit. Such a limited, material goal misdirects your heart from seeking true wealth which is always spiritual not material. Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also..” Matthew 6:20-21 NKJV.

It is better to have the best of what lasts, than simply more of what is only good for the moment.  More is never enough! My wise and dear friend, Campbell, advised me years ago, The heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” Be selective about what holds your gaze too long, lest it fills your vision and captures your desires.

God’s Word is clear, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV. What God provides will always be enough. And what is the personal reward of having enough? Gratitude. Contentment. Sufficiency. Satisfaction. Freedom from the tyranny for more. Appreciating things that money cannot buy.

“Godliness with contentment is a great gain.” Read 1 Timothy 6: 6-11.  I read a sign today that said, “The most important things in life are not things.” That is good to remember. God offers you a greater return, and much more enduring, than the biggest bull market on Wall Street.

“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – through Him Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13. It is never your wealth or possessions that provide true security and contentment. Those are found only in God.

Today I pray for you to trust God, reassured that He is your source of sufficiency.

Christian Communications 2018

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Truth Conquers Sin

February 2nd, 2017

The harder you run from your wrongs the faster truth pursues

My thoughts and comments today are that “truth conquers sin.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9 NIV.

As a young teen, more than once I was reminded by my Dad, “You may be sure your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 NIV. I never felt his words threatening, nor did my Dad mean them to be. He wanted me to understand the folly of sin; he succeeded in doing that. I was sobered by his words and probably behaved better than I might have otherwise. When you live everyday life with a deep conviction of the holiness of God and the inherent sinfulness of your own flesh, you will subject your decisions and plans to a more careful scrutiny. Doing so is a healthy and spiritually beneficial exercise.

Sin will not stay a secret for long. The harder you run from facing your wrongs the faster truth pursues you. Covering what you have done never succeeds. Why even try? Denial doesn’t make your wrong disappear. Jesus warned, “Beware of hypocrisy.  The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have . . whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear.” Luke 12:1-3 NLT. Eventually, wrong is exposed. Ever wondered why?

The enemy of your soul wants your transgression to become a permanent and fatal flaw, so he tempts you to deny and hide it. Doing so never works out well for anyone but your spiritual adversary. The devil wants to torture you with your wrong doing and allow him to eventually rule over you. If the accuser of your soul can succeed, he can keep you in the prison of your own guilt and shame. The Bible describes him as, “The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night.” Read Revelation 12:10-11 NIV. His scheme is to control you by the threat of exposure. Never give him that leverage.

How much more plain could anything be? Adam and Eve tried blaming, denying, and hiding in the Garden of Eden. How did that work out for them? Read Genesis 3:6-13 NIV. God will not let that work for you any better than it did for Adam and Eve. God loves you too much to allow that to happen. Because of His love, God will not allow the strategy of denying and hiding sin to succeed. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NIV.

What then is the righteous response to sin? My dearest of friends, Campbell, often said, “There is only one way that sin leaves a life – through the mouth in confession.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Read 1 John 1:5-10 NIV. Honest and humble repentance before God and man is the only cure for sin. David wrote, “When I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Read Psalm 32:1-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know that honesty about sin is always the best policy.

Christian Communications 2017

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Wisdom

August 30th, 2016

Invest in acquiring wisdom.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom.” Proverbs 4:7 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wisdom.”

Life can be challenging. In those challenges, hold loosely what is temporal; distinguish and hold tightly what is eternal. The Bible’s counsel is wise; “Examine everything carefully; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 NAS. I find it interesting that our God Who, “changes not,” also declares, “I make all things new.” With discernment, you navigate the changes inherent in daily life without losing connection with the spiritual values that have enriched your journey.

As years and experiences accumulate, you will cherish your history of God’s providence while you readily recognize the current activity of the Holy Spirit in your life. A trusting heart and mind are the keys to expanded experience and increased knowledge. Solomon discovered, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for [wisdom and understanding are] more profitable than silver and yield better returns than gold.” Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV. Invest in acquiring wisdom. Wisdom from God is easy to recognize. James 3:17 NIV.

Spiritual discernment and wise discrimination will guard and guide you. No wise person would leave their door open to anyone who drops by for good or ill. Neither should your heart or mind be void of discernment. You must exercise spiritual judgment. Stay open in your spirit, not to everyone or anything, but welcome those Godly people and present realities that align with God’s Truth and ring true in your heart. Solomon learned, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Proverbs 24:3-4 NAS.

Change alone is not quite enough; you want growth and measurable improvement. For that to happen, you will need your knowledge to mature into understanding and wisdom. It is equally foolish to be open to everything as to be closed to anything. “Every teacher . . who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old.” Matthew 13:52 NLT. Experiences, old or new, require discriminating discernment. Value both old and new experiences, integrating both for your gain and growth.

If you desire Godly wisdom, my friend, Campbell, practiced and recommended reading one of the 31 chapters of Proverbs each day, again and again every month. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 NIV. As Solomon learned, you do not acquire true wisdom by your own cleverness. Wisdom and understanding result from the practice of God’s Word, by observing and welcoming the Godly wisdom of others, and by learning through your own experiences as understood through the prism of God’s Word. Value those who have lived longer, journeyed further, and are open to know God and His ways better. Then become that person for someone else. “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NAS.

Today, I pray for you to listen well to the Holy Spirit in your heart. John 16:13-14 NIV.

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Christian Communications 2016

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A Personal and Family Legacy

January 15th, 2016

“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NIV.

Your history need not determine your destiny.

My thoughts and comments are about “a personal and family legacy.”

When my Dad died in a highway accident at a young age of forty-four years, he did not leave many material things – a small house worth only what was owed on it, and an insurance policy for four thousand dollars. Invaluable to me, my Dad left something that still shapes much of who I am and what I believe. As was said of a young, Judean king, Josiah, I would describe my Dad in those same words, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” 2 Kings 22:2 NIV. I realize how often his words and personal example deposited practical, Godly wisdom that still guides my actions and decisions, long after his life ended.

My Dad’s life still challenges me to be better than I would have been without his example and instruction. I hope I will have continued that legacy for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and through them to the generations that will follow. In a previous devotional this week, I commented on another verse that motivates me, “Therefore God was not ashamed to be called their God.” Hebrews 11:16 NIV. I want that to be true of my life. (If you have not yet read EDL “Unashamed,” from January 13, I encourage you to do so. Just click on the title.) And I want God and others to also say of me, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”

My dearest of friends, Campbell, was twenty-six years my senior and thirty-three years my friend. He still is in my heart; his life not his death occupies my thoughts of him. Like my Dad, Campbell left a legacy of righteousness to me – and many others – by his exemplary character and spiritual integrity. He held little concern that I be like him but modeled a holy passion that I be more like Jesus. Paul gave practical advice, “Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like Him.” Ephesians 5:1 TEV. I am a better man, husband, father, pastor, and friend through the influence of his friendship.

“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord . . not turning aside to the right or the left,” was written about Josiah, King of Judah, who reigned for thirty-one years beginning at the age of eight. His father, Amon, and grandfather, Manasseh, were notorious. Their record was despicable not enviable, a shameful history of idolatry and evil, committing wrongs against men and sins against God. Your history need not determine your destiny. Instead of his parentage, Josiah chose a Godly example to follow. “Josiah . . walked in all the ways of David.” 2 Kings 22:2 NIV. Josiah chose a different path, a path in which he did what was right.

You did not choose your history, but you must choose your destiny. Josiah found and followed God’s Word. Read 2 Kings 22:8-23:25 NIV. Of Josiah, the Bible says, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength.” 2 Kings 23:25 NIV. Jesus said the first commandment is, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Mark 12:30 NKJV.

Choose the path you take. Choose a Godly heritage for your family. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NIV. You have a choice in your destiny; you have a voice to a next generation. Right is not always the popular way nor least costly, but doing what is right is always the right thing to do. Your legacy to the next generation depends upon your Godly example today.

Today, I pray for you to seize every opportunity to choose what is right and live pleasing to God.

Family Legacy

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications

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Decisions and Destiny

February 10th, 2015

“Keeping your eyes on Jesus, on whom your faith depends.” Hebrews 12:2 NLT.

Focus directs desire; desire decides direction; direction determines destiny.

My thoughts and comments today are about “decisions and destiny.”

After near mishaps, my wife, Gayle, and I agreed on a simple practice: “An automobile should never be moving in a direction the driver is not looking.” The simple principle of focus eliminates so much regret. Breaking my own rule one day, when I was distracted and in a hurry, left a clear reminder on the back bumper of my car. I backed into the concrete base of a light pole in a parking lot. Rest assured; too late, I looked in the direction of my abrupt stop. But the damage was already done.

That seems a good lesson for life as well. You need never finish where you did not intend to be. First, determine which direction you ought to go, and then direct your focus and energies there. You will be drawn in the direction you are looking. Focus directs desires; desire decides direction; direction determines destiny. Destiny does not happen by random chance; destiny is achieved according to God’s will and your confirmed choice. “In [Christ] . . being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Read Ephesians 1:11-12.

On more than one occasion, my friend, Campbell, reminded me, “The heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” Determine your focus and you will govern your desires, ambitions, and even your achievements. When you fail to do so, life does not work as well. Avoid distractions that misdirect your heart away from your goal. As David determined, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.” Psalm 57:7 NIV. Read Psalm 112:1-9 NIV.

People whose focus is on what is positive and possible are encouraged in those directions. Focus on what is negative and difficult and you are inextricably drawn that direction. My advice is that your life be forward looking and progressing onward; keep looking, expecting, reaching. Let nothing of yesterday keep you from anticipating today.

The Apostle Paul reduced your path to progress to just one simple thing. “One thing I do: forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:13 NIV. Three activities combine as though one goal – forgetting, reaching toward, and pressing forward to a Godly objective. David understood the same principle. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek . .” See Psalm 27:4.

There is a qualifier for your success in life. It takes more than just focus; first, you have to have the right goal and then keep a fixed focus. Anything less than, “the high calling of Jesus Christ,” is just a misleading distraction. Life’s success comes by, “keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom your faith depends from start to finish.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT. Look around for encouragement; lay aside what encumbers your progress; be rid of all that entangles your advancement.

This is God’s wondrous promise, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. Now that is something in which you can trust and believe.

Today, my prayer for you is to understand that tomorrow is built on the foundations of this day.

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