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Plans and Steps

May 8th, 2018

LIFE IS BEST WHEN GOD IS FIRST.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Plans and Steps.”

A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well, and a plan that is not clear, and manageable on some daily basis, will not lead to success. A plan is like GPS. You first choose your desired destination. Then a plan is formulated as the best way to get there. That could and should be applied to everyday life. A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well. And any plan that is not clear and manageable on some daily basis will not lead to success. Some years ago, a simple yet practical strategy became popular, “Plan the work; work the plan.” Solomon learned that, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 NLT. That remains wise advice in any circumstance.

When you plan, you visualize the priority and time required for the various matters requiring your efforts. When you neglect those moments to think through a day’s responsibilities, you find yourself busy but less productive. Without a plan for the day, energy is misspent, and efforts are less effective. Attention is easily divvied and distracted. Time is poorly allocated. I have learned that important things are often replaced by alternatives that seem easier and more immediately enjoyable.

Direction is necessary for production. Now, let’s look at this on a larger scale with more eternal consequence. This principle especially applies to your spiritual life, as well as your daily life. Those two are inseparable, by the way. You will be more successful at the latter, when you succeed at the former. You cannot successfully compartmentalize your life into differing categories, seasons, or circumstances, in some of which you retain operational control while in others you are expecting God to direct and bless. Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. Jesus made this clear, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

Often, my Dad reminded me, “Allen, first things first!” It’s very simple really. First, you work, then you play. First, you save, then you spend. First, you seek God’s plan, then you follow His plan. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Read Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT. You and your wellbeing have been in God’s plans from the beginning and continue to be.

Life is best when God is first. God has the definitive plan for your life. Scripture is consistent. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. Through prayer and Scripture, let God plan your work. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

That being true, then devote yourself to knowing and following His plan. That is called obedience, a priority to God and a necessity for your success. Obedience will supply you with the necessary focus and ability you do not otherwise possess. Obedience will produce opportunities you neither earned nor expected. And obedience will yield achievement you do not imagine. God’s direction is always accurate; His timing is always exact; His results are always abundant.

Today I pray for you to discover God’s purpose in all you do and with all you have.

Christian Communications 2018-1308

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The Imminent Return of Christ

October 17th, 2017

Jesus’ promise to return should shape the life you live.

 “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ.”  Titus 2:13 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “The Imminent Return of Christ.”

I have noticed and become concerned about how seldom the imminent return of Christ is taught from the pulpit or is a matter of joyful conversation among Believers. Much else is taught and talked about from the pulpit it seems, but little is said about eternity and the urgency of our preparedness for that. As a boy, I remember that a congregation singing even a verse and chorus of the hymn, “He’s Coming Soon,” and the altars would be filled.

Jesus’ promise to return should greatly shape the life you live. Jesus chided the religious leaders of His day for their ability to forecast the weather but their inability to, “discern the signs of the times.” Matthew 16:3 NIV. Too many contemporary pulpits are awash with sermons about useful topics but seem silent concerning such a significant Scriptural doctrine as the return of Jesus for His Church and the final judgement of one and all.

Jesus had much to say about the rapture of the Church and the righteous judgement that would follow. Jesus warned, “[At] the coming of the Son of Man . . don’t let Him find you sleeping when He arrives without warning. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch for His return.” Read Mark 13:32-37 NLT. For many, the literal return of Jesus for believers and the resulting judgement of the righteous and the unrighteous will be a shocking surprise for which they have not prepared. “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced Him.” Revelation 1:7 NIV. When the Father chooses, Jesus will return irregardless of your preparedness or lack thereof.

Jesus warned that at His coming, “People [will be] eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building . . It will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the hour when the Son of Man returns . . one sleeping . . one working. .  will be left . .  therefore be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.Luke 17:28, 34-35, 44. Sadly, you may not go up then, if you do not wake up now. Writing to the young Timothy, Paul was certain of this for him, and for us, “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV.

The issue is not the differences of theological opinions about how and when Jesus will come for Christians. The eternally momentous issue is whether you are prepared for that fateful day. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come . . So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Read Matthew 24:42-44 NIV. There is so much at risk that is more consequential and irreplaceable than your plans and possessions.

Whatever your belief and understanding of the timing of His return in the calendar of Biblical events, this is certain. Jesus will come as He promised and as the Bible clearly testifies. The real issue is: will you and I be ready? The correct answer to that question is whether at that moment you are trusting Christ alone for your salvation, and anticipating His return. “Christ has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:26-28 NKJV.

Because Jesus has not yet come does not mean that He will not come – at any day or at any time – for those who are ready and watch for His appearing. In fact, Jesus warned, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Mark 13:32-33 NKJV.

How then should we live? “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us . .” Read Titus 2:11-14 NKJV. Our hearts should longingly reply, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to not value the temporal above that which is eternal.

A personal note: Ministry responsibilities away from my home and office last week did not allow time or opportunity to write EDL. I am grateful to be writing again today. Blessings! 

Christian Communications 2017

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Health and Holiness

March 23rd, 2017

Care about eternal matters more than temporal

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health.”

3 John 2 NAS

My thoughts and comments today are about, “health and holiness.”

Recently, I had my Annual Wellness Checkup, as it was called by the doctor. It was overdue but ultimately reassuring. The practical wisdom of being more health conscious is undeniable, especially as you add years and miles. Living a healthier lifestyle by eating properly, exercising regularly, managing your weight, reducing stress and worry, getting enough rest, and having a medical check-up periodically makes good sense. You are wise to take care of your body. Doing so is a personal investment in your continued well-being and length of life. And I recommend, you are wise to take care of your soul.

Spiritual health impacts physical wellbeing. Deliberately attending to matters that contribute to your spiritual health and well-being is wise. John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NAS.  It is incongruous to prioritize your physical health which only benefits your lifetime, yet neglect your spiritual health which impacts eternity.  

Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Bodily exercise profits a little, but Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. Jesus’ question was direct, “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Mark 8:36-37 NLT. The question is clear; the answer is obvious.

Here are my practical suggestions for a Spiritual Wellness Checkup. What you need most is a good report from the Great Physician and Savior of man’s soul. Keep your mind clean and clear, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV. Walk in faith, “For it is impossible to please God without faith.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

Live gratefully, “In everything give thanks, this is the will of God concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV. Forgive generously; “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 NKJV. Pray instead of worry; “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6 NLT.

Choose trust above understanding; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not upon your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NKJV. Practice faithfulness for, “It is required of a steward that he is found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV. Pray frequently and fervently. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT. God’s Word is proven and productive for health and holiness. “Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to value and hold fast that which is eternal.

Christian Communications 2017

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Matters Eternal and Essential

August 12th, 2016

Simplifying options simplifies life.

“Love your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matt 28:37 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about “matters eternal and essential.”

Doing what you would rather do instead of doing what you should do is a waste of time. Distraction from truly important matters happens too frequently. We easily procrastinate while busily engaging our time, talents, and resources with too much that is temporal and optional. That behavior may be typical but it’s not particularly profitable. We need Godly wisdom to guide us.

Wisdom is not about having all the right answers, because sometimes you won’t. Wisdom is about asking the right questions to the One who holds all truth. Know where to turn when you need to know what to do. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV. Life is simpler and success and satisfaction are possible when you seek answers from the right source. Jesus was asked, “Which is the most important commandment?” Matthew 22:36 NLT. In spite of the questioner’s deliberate attempt to embarrass Jesus, his question allowed Jesus to identify and clarify authentic love for God.

Jesus’ answer was clear. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. A second is equally important Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT. Love God with the entirety of all you are and possess; love others as you love yourself. Those are the foundation for all obedience.Jesus clarifies what is eternal and essential.

Commandments – truth you accept as essential and non-negotiable – determine the commitments that govern how you live every day. Your commitments should rest on the greatest commandments. Commitments reveal what you consider important. Your life is the sum total of your commitments. There is no higher nor more worthy commitment than to love and serve God with all you are, do, and have. Your values, priorities, and expenditure of time and money should be chosen accordingly.

Life becomes complex and choices get messy when you haven’t clarified what is eternal and essential. Simplifying options simplifies life. Ultimate commitments are things and matters that are not easily changed, nor should they be. I think those involve promises that you make to God and others, in your spiritual life and in your relationships. Pray diligently; think carefully; obey faithfully.

Today, I pray for you to know that the eternal is ultimately all that is important.

EDL Love Matt 36 8-12-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016

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What’s in a Name?

December 30th, 2015

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NKJV.

Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “what’s in a name?”

A secure sense of identity is important. Names have significance. My first name distinguishes me from others in my family. My middle name honors my Dad. My last name identifies me with generations that preceded me and will follow me. Your name identifies you, connects you to your history, and differentiates you from others. I have friends who have legally changed their names to honor their cultural heritage or to better reflect their new life in Christ. In Scripture, God considers names important. When God chose to send His Son into our world, His name was not left to whim or chance, but deliberately chosen by God.

To Nazareth, an angel was sent to the young virgin, Mary, as well as Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus . . for He shall save His people from their sins.” Read Luke 1:26-35/Matthew 1:20-21 NKJV. Jesus’ name, “Jehovah Saves,” perfectly describes His purpose on earth. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” Acts 10:43 NIV. All who call upon the name of Jesus find forgiveness and release from the power of their sins. Jesus came with singular purpose: to do the will of His Father, to reveal the heart of God, to declare the power of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to bring redemption from sin. “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Read Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV.

Gratitude and pleasant memories accompany names of family and friends dear to me. Yet there is no name more loved and gratefully recalled than the name of Jesus. What’s in a name? Everything, when it is His name. Be clear about this; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. See Acts 2:21 NKJV. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT.

I know of no greater declaration and assurance than the unchanging nature of Jesus and His power to save. Romans 5:1-2. There is a wonderful promise of redemption and renewal in Christ, “To him who overcomes I will give him a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NKJV. Awaiting you is a name that only God knows, that will perfectly describe who you have become because of His abundant grace. Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal. “That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to hold the name of Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.

Christian Communications

Brass Stamp

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