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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Applause and Acclaim

September 27th, 2018

Appreciation fuels achievement.

Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Applause and Acclaim.”

Few things are more satisfying than compliments for something that you have done, and done well. Hollywood, Broadway, and Nashville give numerous awards for entertainers in movies, television, videos, stage, and most genres of music. Outside of entertainment, there is the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding public service and achievement in American journalism, letters, and music. The prestigious Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for significant political and international  achievement. As children thrive in the acceptance and approval of others, people of any age respond to sincere recognition of their achievements.

Praise and appreciation fuels achievement for one and all, from children to adults. Parents accomplish that with their approving words, proud smiles, and physical hugs that recognition. Bosses do that with awards, plaques, certificates, bonuses, or raises. Any award seems to mean more when the person or group giving recognition means the most to you. A stranger’s compliment may be flattering, but fleeting. A friend’s praise is a joy forever cherished forever in your heart.

I am not sure there would be any little league teams if Mom and Dad were not in the stands cheering and claiming, “that’s my child.” Children don’t yet play for the love of the game; they play for the cheers and congratulations of their parents and coaches. Some years ago, when our children were young, my stepfather, a wise man, gave me great parenting advice. He said, “To be mentally and emotionally healthy, every child needs a generous number of ‘atta boys’ every day.” If your children don’t hear praise and encouragement from you, they will seek encouragement elsewhere and embrace others’ flattery as an acceptable substitute. Flattery is nothing more than sugar-coated deception.

Let me add a small word of caution. The need for sincere applause and public acclaim can become seductive, even addictive, feeding one’s ego and pride rather than inspiring better efforts and greater accomplishments. Your best work and deepest satisfaction comes when you find abiding joy in knowing you offered your best and God is pleased, whether noticed by others or not.

The Bible offers a warning. Jesus cautioned those who, “loved the praise (and approval) from men more than the praise (and approval) from God.” John 12:43 NIV/NAS.  However great the applause and recognition of others might be, you will find no greater satisfaction than at the moment you finally stand before God and hear the Savior’s words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful . . enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV. May your entrance be grand and may you be welcomed by the applause of Heaven. At that moment, every earthly tribute and trophy will pale in comparison. Always and only, live on earth with Heaven in mind.

When all else is finally said and done, the sole opinion that will ultimately matter is the Lord’s evaluation. Paul gave Godly counsel in all that you do, Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do.” Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV. Don’t accept any distinction between the sacred and the secular. All you do for the cause and name of Christ is holy in God’s eyes.

Today I pray for you to never require the crowd’s faint applause or fading acclaim.

Christian Communications 2018-9299

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Beware of Temptation

September 19th, 2018

Temptation Is a Doorway to Regrets.

“One who perseveres under temptation will receive the crown of life.” James 1:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are that you, “Beware of Temptation.”

Days earlier, Gayle and I were having a late lunch at an oriental restaurant. I enjoy fortune cookies for their flavor, not so much for their advice. Occasionally, I am amused by a clever insight about life contained inside a fortune cookie. This was one of those times. What I read made me ponder. “Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.” Those few words were worth the cost of the meal. Know this. Temptation parades in the disguise of an irresistible opportunity. How often have we all been misled and tempted, and to our eventual regret, have embraced a temptation that we incorrectly saw as an opportunity.

Be wary of temptation. Temptation lures you to places unprofitable to be, takes you further than you expected to go, and can cost you more than you can afford to pay. Paul was concerned when he wrote about people being led astray, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV.

Because you are offered something, or want to do something, or can do something doesn’t mean you should. The Bible is filled with examples of those who lacked self-control: Satan himself, Adam and Eve, Samson, Jacob, Esau, Saul, Demas, and a host of others stretching from then to now.

As always, the Bible offers guidance and encouragement when temptation exposes its strength and source. God’s Word is clear. “No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man. And God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:12-13. NIV. Yes, God is faithful. Self-control is a virtue, and a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23.

It is wiser and far better to seek an exit from a temptation in the guise of an opportunity. Don’t look for a way in. Look for the way out.Blessed is the one who perseveres under temptation because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV.

But there is good news. Others like Joseph, who at the cost of prison, fled from the allure of his master’s wife rather than defile himself and his God. The supreme example is Jesus, who when tempted to circumvent the cross, refused to succumb to such a temptation. Read Matthew 16:21-26 NKJV.

Because you want something, and what you want is available to you, should not be an indication that what you want is best for you. Reflect on that for a few moments. I expect that we have all made that mistake and always to our regret. Know this.”‘ When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.” Read James 1:13-15 NIV.

If we were not commonly vulnerable to temptations due to our fallen nature, there would have been no necessity and priority for Jesus to teach His disciples, as well as us, to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13 NAS. Temptation is always a doorway to regrets.

It appears to me that Jesus’ concern for us was and remains primary, rather than secondary. Temptation is an intruder because our common enemy, the devil, is the Tempter. Wisely, we are cautioned, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!” Matthew 26:41 NLT.

Even Jesus was tempted by Satan, until He commanded that enemy, “Get behind Me, Satan.” From where did Satan, that evil Tempter, come? Read Genesis 3:1-3 NIV. His tragic story of rebellion, disobedience, and deceit began long before the Garden of Eden, when and where the devil tempted Eve to ignore God’s clear instruction, who in turn tempted Adam, to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Adam and Eve were lured by the false promise that, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” See Genesis 3:4-8. Temptation never turns out well. Too late, they both learned more about, “good and evil,” than they ever wanted or needed to know. Obedience is better than curiosity.

Pride exposes you to temptation, while deceiving you to believe that you are invulnerable to it. The Apostle Paul was concerned for the Corinthian Christians, and his concern is relevant to us, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV.

Here is the great news! “God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13. NIV.

Today I pray for you to live free of regrets.

Christian Communications 2018

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Gratitude and Thankfulness

November 22nd, 2017

Thanksgiving is the language of gratitude.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.” Psalm 95:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Gratitude and Thankfulness”

Thanksgiving is the language of gratitude. God loves a grateful, thankful heart. I think those two words of similar meaning can be distinguished in this way. Gratitude is a noble attitude just as thankfulness is a worthy practice. Gratitude is the emotion experienced. Thankfulness is that emotion expressed. The covert emotion of gratitude is tangibly expressed in the simplicity of overt thankfulness. Stated more simply, gratitude displays its joyful heart with a thankful lifestyle. Gratitude is so much more than an emotion of a moment. Thanksgiving is the lifestyle of expressing sincere and heartfelt gratitude to God and others.

Why would we not be thankful? Paul’s question to the Christians at Corinth is relevant, “Who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV. Boasting in what you have denies the charity of the gift from God and your responsibility to reflect the same to others. Humility, thankfulness, and generosity are always very much in order.

As each new day dawns, your God offers the abounding blessings of a new beginning, an amazing grace, a true forgiveness, an uplifting encouragement, a fresh hope, a strong faith, a real joy, and more than adequate strength to successfully meet whatever challenge the day requires. “As your day, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25 NKJV. I have long found strength and encouragement by the promise within that remarkable verse. His strength to you is in proportion to what the day requires of you.

This week in our nation, we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. For many that day will be little more than a festive holiday, a day for family and friends to gather for a holiday meal, with side dishes and desserts of every description. But such a day should also be a thankful remembrance of the faithfulness of God, the fellowship of family and friends, and your gratitude for God’s providence throughout the year behind and ahead. We have so much for which to be thankful and His invitation to experience more. Read Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Solomon wisely observed, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV. There is no end to God’s mercies, no limit to His grace, and no measure of His goodness. Therefore, “Continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV. Overflowing with thankfulness!

This season of Thanksgiving, look past your present struggles or previous challenges, whatever they have been or may be at the moment. Decide with the Psalmist David, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 NKJV. Praise always wins. In praise and blessing, you see the full brilliance of His grace, the abounding nature of His love, the generous supply of His daily provision, and your privilege to respond with thanksgiving to God. Read Psalm 95:2-3 NKJV. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NIV.

You will discover that you have more for which to be thankful than things about which to complain or regret. And life is best when you look past things distressing to all that is blessing. There is ample evidence of blessings that abound. Read 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 NKJV. The sincere giving of thanks is your fitting benediction for God’s goodness to you. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to make your life a resounding Amen to what God has spoken.

On a personal note:

Gayle and I wish you a Blessed Thanksgiving as you gather with family and friends to give thanks to God for His goodness and provision. We are thankful for you  and for the months or years that you ave been a part of the circle of readers of EveryDay Life. Your recommendation of EDL to your friends has helped us to reach a broadening circle of readers. And your kind emails of how God has used a specific devotional to brighten your day remains encouraging. This has been our 10th year of writing and publishing EDL. We are grateful to God for your partnership and encouragement . . . Blessings!  

Christian Communications 2017

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Fragile Hearts and God’s Comfort

May 28th, 2016

“May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise.” Psalm 119:76 NIV.

Comfort expresses God’s character even more than describes His compassion.

My thoughts today are about, “fragile hearts and God’s comfort.”

There are times when life should come with a warning, “Fragile, handle with prayer.” Life can be painful; people can be fragile. Life will hold its share of bumps and bruises. When your heart is breaking, when difficulties multiply, when problems overwhelm, when you think you cannot make another day, you can know and trust the God of all comfort. God always handles people with care. You or someone near you needs God’s comfort today.

If you have seen a mother comfort a sick or fussy child, or a father gather a frightened toddler into his arms, you were watching God at work. Nothing comforts a child like its mother’s arms, held close to her heart, and hearing her familiar, comforting voice. The crying stops and the child settles, resting quietly and safely in familiar arms. That’s a practical and tender picture of what God does for any child of His. God comforts them.

I have watched elderly saints struggling with pain that no medication seems to ease until God invisibly takes them in His arms and whispers His words of peace and assurance. I have witnessed families gathering at a graveside where hearts are aching and tears flow, until God touches broken hearts and they begin to heal. Remember, “The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT.

Jesus said, “I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever . . the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” John 14:16-17/26. The word is also translated, “helper, counselor, encourager.” Comfort expresses God’s character even more than describes His compassion.

Run quickly to, “the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV. His comfort to you is to overflow to others. “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, Who loved us and in His special favor gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say.2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT. God’s heals your hurt to empower you to bring healing to others. A simple prayer, word of encouragement, or expression of practical care can be an immeasurable comfort to others.

Today, I pray for you to experience God’s loving care and healing comfort.

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Christian Communications 2016

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The Power of Influence

January 6th, 2016

“May God give endurance and encouragement . . as you follow Christ.” Romans 15:5 NIV.

Popularity does not replicate significance.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the power of influence.”

Influence is inevitable, subtly shaping what you believe, what you value, how you behave, and who you become. Through social mores, popular culture uses every means possible – entertainment, movies, music, sports, newspapers, magazines, television, celebrities, fashions, or the opinions of family and friends – to influence what you think, believe, desire, consider important or unimportant, and how you behave.

Lately, the fascination seems all about who or what is “trending,” as determined by the volume and rapidity of people’s interest in a particular topic, person, or activity. What or who is trending is as brief as the current culture’s attention span, and about as irrelevant. Popularity does not replicate significance. Is anyone besides me weary of trends and viral videos? Have we really become that shallow, bored, or easily amused?

The world tries to substitute power and authority for influence, employing demands, leverage, threats, intimidation, force, or fear. The surrounding culture imposes its influence by subtle or even blatant coercion for the benefit of a few, but usually to the detriment of others. Influence is defined as: “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on, or produce effects on, the actions, behavior, or opinions, of others.” Imagine if your faith and life became a compelling force for the Gospel. Godly influence is a powerful thing, a privilege only to be used benevolently.

Jesus enjoyed extraordinary influence. After Jesus’ Resurrection, He was given all authority by the Father. See Matthew 28:18 NKJV. No wonder the disciples marveled that “even the winds and the waves obeyed Him.” Strong, independent men submitted to His authority, not by His command but at His invitation and their willing submission. In Jesus’ influence, I see three things: (1) experience that is trusted, (2) example that is benevolent, and (3) encouragement to others that is consistent. Jesus exercised influence benevolently and expects the same of every Christ-follower. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NIV. Godly influence is to bless and benefit others, not for your own gain or advantage. The love of Jesus shining through your life can influence people spiritually – loving, lifting, and leading others, as Jesus would.

Relating to parenting and leadership, spiritual or otherwise, my Dad taught me a basic principle of influence. “Those who follow your example may exceed your liberties; so be wise in the liberties you permit yourself. And those who follow your example may come short of your disciplines; so require more of yourself than you will of them.” My Dad, a wise and practical man, understood the power of personal influence when exercised properly and the failure when exercised inappropriately or not at all. Godly influence is offered to others, never imposed upon them.

Paul’s words would be my prayer for you today; “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.” Read Romans 15:5-6 NIV. Following Jesus closely is a key to vibrant spiritual influence.

Christian Communications 2016

I just received wonderful news from Pastor Lusi Arsov of Friends Church in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pastor Lusi and the team of translators continue to provide EveryDay Life in the Bulgarian language. In 2015, EDL reached 60,000 readers in 87 countries. Praise the Lord! Pastor Lusi has invited us to again minister at Friends Church later this year. I will tell you more about that soon . . Blessings.

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