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Posts Tagged ‘faithfulness’

Potential and Possibilities

October 24th, 2017

“Small things can have vast potential.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which is smaller than all the seeds on earth.” Mark 4:31 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Potential and Possibilities.”

No good thing that is said or done is inconsequential. Things that may appear small at first are not always as small as they seem. A simple, small seed can hold a world of potential. Jesus taught that, “[The Kingdom of Heaven] is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Mark 4:31-32 NKJV. God places high value on small things when they are the right things.

Every enterprise begins small, appearing insignificant at its early stages, except to those who see potential others do not see. Small things can have vast potential. They should not be disparaged. The Bible cautions, “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10 NLT. And Jesus noted that, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10 NIV. Faithfulness is learned in small things and responsibilities grow in proportion to reliability.

Little things are not necessarily little in value. By that I mean, some little things have amazing potential and could produce big results. For instance, a small seed holds disproportionate potential; a small idea can produce a profitable business; a small kindness can begin a long friendship; a wise word can change a life’s direction. “Now may He Who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NKJV.

But also, I must warn that little things can also have big, unwanted, and unintended repercussions as well. While describing the effect of a small bit in a powerful horse’s mouth and a small rudder to turn a large ship, the Bible warns that, “Even so the tongue is a little member that boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles . . and the tongue . . defiles the whole body.” Read James 3:2-12 NKJVWords mean something. Words can heal; words can harm. They hold vast potential, both for the person who speaks them as well as those who hear them. An ill-advised word can disparage ideas, diminish incentive, or destroy hope.

Solomon addressed this negative potential with the image of a vineyard, “Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV. The vine is where growth and fruit are to be found; those represent your future possibility and productivity. Solomon knew that small things could cause great damage. Such causes are often unnoticed until after irreparable damage has been done. Most of us are not undone by big things. Those are more easily recognized and readily avoided. Small things are often our undoing: such as the road not taken, the opportunity overlooked, the omission unrecognized, the little temptation embraced, or lesser failure indulged.

The Bible says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27 NKJV. A special moments can be spoiled by inaction – an achievement not celebrated, an anniversary forgotten, a thank you unspoken, a kindness unappreciated, a person’s efforts not valued, and many other similar opportunities for good that are just overlooked. Such things happen every day. Small things as simple as one’s countenance, tone of voice, body language, attitude, or mere words can assist or resist progress, build or dampen enthusiasm, and develop or disparage an idea. Protect the vines; secure the fruit of blessing; determine to use whatever you have to bless others positively.

Today, I pray for you to celebrate the great and Godly potential in yourself and others.

Christian Communications 2017

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Your Plans or His?

December 14th, 2016

God has a hope-filled future for you; plan accordingly.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV

My thoughts and comments today ask, “your plans or His?”

Plans. Plans connect you to your future, or at least you suppose they will. Everyone makes them and should, but not every plan comes to fruition. We are somewhat limited. We know the past, even if we have not learned from it. And we are fairly aware of the present, even when we are not as fully engaged as we should be. But as to the future, we can only guess. That limitation makes even your best plans incomplete.

The philosophy of our secular culture is, “Plan your work and work your plan.” But where is God in that advice? I heard a person described as, “not having an eraser.” As I got to know them better, I realized the accuracy of their description. They were not at all flexible. The Psalmist described the tragedy of people whose plans fail to include God. “When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment, all their plans come to an end.” Psalm 146:4 NLT. Life is wasted by those who do not put God first in their plans. Why waste time, energy, or irreplaceable resource on plans that fail to include God?

Make sure your plans touch eternity. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV. It’s your choice, His plans or yours? Your aspirations for the future are best when submitted to His wiser direction. By experience, Solomon learned, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV.

If the wisest of men knew to not depend on his imperfect understanding, then maybe you and I are wise to do so as well. In the wilderness, Israel’s insistence on their way instead of God’s will resulted in terrible loss. “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:15 NKJV. God’s path and plans are always better than experiencing a “leanness of soul.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just know the future? Or even if you knew someone who did know the future? There is One who does. God said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. God has a hope-filled future for you; plan accordingly. Hope without a future would be meaningless; a future without hope would be despairing.

As a boy, I remember my mother singing at her piano, “Many things about tomorrow, I can’t seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.” You can live every day with strength and confidence. “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15 NIV. God offers you a future filled with hope and a hope that fills your future. “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.”  Psalm 37:23 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to rest your hope and future upon God’s character and faithfulness.

Christian Communications 2016

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Tears and Hope

November 2nd, 2016

Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory.

Through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Tears and Hope.”

Have you ever had nothing to hold onto except hope in a distressing situation? For too many that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. When hope rests solidly on the Word of God and your faith in that, hope is sure and steadfast.

Last week was challenging. I last wrote to you about a steadfast hope that we have in Christ. Little did I know that the same morning I would receive a call that our grandson Parker, just twenty-one years old, had died in an automobile accident. The news was devastating. Yet the words about “Steadfast Hope” were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends, the ministry of our church, our faith in Christ and His Word, and the grace and faithfulness of God has sustained us these past days. Rather than writing last week, I set aside time to be with our family as we grieved together and began the healing process.

Our family has grieved individually and collectively because of this tragedy. Pain has been our companion and part of our conversations these recent days. And I believe that God has grieved with us over the death of Parker – our grandson, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend. We are a family of faith. We do not grieve apart from hope; we do not hope apart from Christ. As Paul wrote confidently, “I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NLT. We sorrow, but with the sure hope of the believers’ resurrection. Read Titus 2:12-13 KJV.

Having said that, I cannot imagine the inconsolable grief of those Paul describes as, “at that time you were without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12 NKJV. Without Christ. Without hope. Without God. In the world. The world is a tragic place without God in it. By the grace of, God we enjoy a Godly heritage of five generations with expectation of that extending until Jesus’ return. In this recent ordeal, our faith has been tested, but has proven steadfast. As our son said, “Our trust has been tested but our trust in God remains sure.”

As we stood beside our grandson’s body in the ER and trauma center, weeping and trying not to do so, the grief and sorrow felt unbearable, the tears uncontrollable. Saying a final good bye to a grandson is something I never expected to do, yet my pain does not compare with the pain of my son and his wife saying a tearful farewell to their young son. In those moments, I believe the Holy Spirit comforted my heart with this thought, “Tears are often the voice of prayers spoken from the heart.” I certainly have discovered that tears are the language of the heart. Tears communicate a depth of emotions that words often do not. Tears release pain in ways language cannot. Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to experience “the peace of God that passes understanding.”

A personal note: I would appreciate your prayers as we minister in four services this Saturday evening and Sunday morning at Cathedral of Faith, 2315 Canoas Garden Ave, San Jose, California, with Pastor Ken Foreman. The teaching will also be Live Streaming on their Online Campus, Sunday, 10 AM, West Coast time. Go to: http://cathedraloffaith.org/live?parentnavigationid=25879, Online Campus. Due to travel and ministry responsibilities, I may not be publishing EDL until my return home . . Blessings!

Christian Communications 2016

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Betrayal

February 24th, 2016

“I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Hurting people hurt others.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “betrayal.”

Betrayal is a harsh word but not a new occurrence. Everyone has felt the sting of misunderstanding, misjudgment, or unfair treatment. The experience is as old and common as time itself. Feelings of betrayal necessitate a relationship that holds positive expectations. Betrayal feels personal and usually is. David felt the sting of personal betrayal – from Saul, his king; Absalom, his son; and Ahithophel, his trusted friend and adviser. “Even my close friend (Ahithophel), whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9 NIV. David understood his own frailties and failures and forgave others as he had been forgiven. (As an interesting and relevant side note, scholars believe Ahithophel to be the father of Eliam and grandfather of Bathsheba. Might that grandfather’s disloyalty relate to David’s behavior with Bathsheba?) Betrayal of others breeds betrayal toward oneself.

Strangers or enemies cannot betray you; your expectations of the first are minimal, of the latter their unkindness is assumed. Friends and family hold unique power to inflict emotional pain. To one degree or another, friction happens in homes, at work, and even in churches. Sadly, it happens in marriages, families, and with friends or mere acquaintances. Hurting people hurt others. Knowingly or unknowingly, fallen people living in a fallen world inflict their hurts and unhappiness upon the lives of those around them. It’s usually about themselves, not the other person. Their pain causes their words and actions. It splashes out on whoever happens by.

Emotions of betrayal come in all forms and sizes, from annoyance to distress. Something as small as an unintended slight or something as large as intentional slander can both create feelings of betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus. Matthew 27:3-5. Peter denied Jesus. Matthew 26:75. Thomas doubted Jesus. John 20:25. The disciples abandoned Jesus. Matthew 26:56. The crowds left Jesus. John 6:66-69. In differing measures, Jesus was betrayed and felt its pain, yet offered forgiveness and restoration of fellowship to each. Imagine Paul’s personal disappointment and pain as he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. But God’s Word provides this assurance, “We have [a High Priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV. Jesus heals all hurts.

Betrayal is a word or action that causes emotional pain, eliciting strong reactions in return. It can be an action toward you as well as a reaction to you. As a teen, when I tried to justify hurting someone who had hurt me, my Dad would remind me, “Two wrongs never make a right.” Imperfect grammar, but he was right, of course. Obviously, there are two questions you are wise to consider. Felt betrayed by someone? Forgive, surrendering your pain to Jesus. Betrayed another’s confidence in you? Consider their pain.

When you have been betrayed, forgive. There is no better choice. Forgiving is for your benefit as much as theirs. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Read Colossians 3:13-14 NIV. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Read Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

When you have betrayed, ask to be forgiven. There alone you find redemption. Read Matthew 5:23-24 NIV. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Read Ephesians 1:7-8 NKJV. Read Romans 4:7-8 NIV. God’s promise is true, “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to always trust the faithfulness of God to heal and forgive.

EDL broken trust

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016
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Success with Satisfaction

January 22nd, 2016

“Our only power and success come from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT.

Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success with satisfaction.”

Success is a more complex subject than might first be assumed. Sir Winston Churchill captured the process as, “moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Ultimately, success requires an untiring enthusiasm and expectation. Let success be your goal, but make satisfaction your measurement of success.

Success is a common, even innate, desire of the human spirit. God wills your success. About that fact, the Bible is clear. “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NASB. God wills you to enjoy financial sufficiency, ample health and strength, measured by a singular standard, “as your soul prospers.” “Our only power and success come from God.” Read 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 TLB. Apart from the spiritual dimension, whatever measure of success you achieve will be unsatisfactory. Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

Do not let the world around you dictate what success is for you. The apparent success of others may mislead you into assuming your success will look like theirs. The Bible warned, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV. The world measures success by tangible acquisitions, notable achievements, popular approval, others’ applause, or material gain. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT. The world’s standards are different from what God values.

You must decide to which you will give irreplaceable years of effort, energy, and expense. Establish your personal definition of success. Without Godly benchmarks for measuring, you may not know when you achieve it or recognize when you have not. Contentment and satisfaction with what you achieve is a more reliable measurement of success than the tangible rewards that result.

For me, where I find the greatest satisfaction and most prize any measure of “success” are family and ministry. I will count Gayle’s and my success by the fruit of our family’s lives, the faith and values we hold in common, enjoying and loving one another’s company, and our mutual love and service for the Lord and His Church. Our family is central to my definition of success with satisfaction.

As for ministry, I evaluate ministry on the twin bases of obedience and faithfulness to God’s call, having done what He asked and been faithful where He placed me. Honest appraisal reminds me that God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been the source of success.

Today, I pray for you to measure success by the satisfaction you find in doing God’s will.

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