Posts Tagged ‘Godliness’

Prosperity and Adversity

February 12th, 2016

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “prosperity and adversity.”

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son.”
“If” – Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

When I was a young teen, I questioned my Dad, a pastor, about a young husband and father I had admired in our congregation. He had such a heart for God and an expressed interest in ministry. He was personable, eloquent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and diligent. His natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry, until he experienced rapid and unexpected success in his construction business.

As he prospered, his plans adjusted as his interests, time, and attention shifted. I well remember his words, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” The first part of his goal was met and exceeded; the latter intention was neither attempted nor realized. My Dad’s response to my disappointment was specific, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s words. Adversity is difficult; prosperity can be deceptive. Be careful, riches will be deceitful. In His masterful and practical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and [a man] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. Both prosperity and adversity have unique hazards. In the best of times, you may easily forget your need of God’s daily provision; in the worst of times, you can incorrectly assume God will not meet your needs.

Uzziah was a young king of Judah who enjoyed great success during his fifty-two year reign. He beautified and fortified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. He was feared and respected by surrounding nations. His land was fruitful and his people prosperous. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV.

Ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped [by God] until he was strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 NKJV. Prosperity without humility and gratitude is destructive.

Far from the prideful height of acclaim, success, and sufficiency, Uzziah died a leper under the judgement of God, ostracized from others. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

Here is the simple truth Solomon understood, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV. The Apostle Paul gave invaluable advice, “Everywhere and in all things, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV. 

Today, I pray for you to “prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

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Being Submissive

February 7th, 2014

“God blesses those who are gentle and lowly.” Matthew 5:5 NLT.

Your natural desire is to be assertive; the spiritual choice is to be submissive.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being submissive.”

Recently, I heard a person described as “having lost their filter.” That could probably be true of any of us some of the time. Without deliberation, words can be inconsiderate. With some people it’s a matter of words not being monitored; for a few it may be strong opinions not being moderated; for others it could be emotions not being managed. A measure of disciplined self-restraint is wise.

From Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we have thus far considered the “poor in spirit – those who prize nothing of their own to boast, and to whom God gives all He has to offer,” and “those who mourn a pain they cannot bear, to whom God gives what He alone can provide.” Let’s now examine those Jesus described as, “meek.” They possess, “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4 NKJV.

(3) Being submissive. To those who embrace submission, an expansive circle welcomes them. “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” Matthew 5:5 NLT. In his letter to Titus, Paul wrote, “Remind the people to be . .  peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:1-2 NIV. That’s quite a challenge for all of us, but possible when you choose to walk in obedience. Submission brings you into the blessings of the disciplines of God. Your natural desire is to be assertive; your spiritual decision is to become submissive to God. Solomon discovered, ”It is better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32 NLT.

The character qualities of being “gentle and lowly” describe the attribute of meekness, not to be confused with weakness despite the phonetic similarity. The two are nothing alike. A meek person is mindful of others’ rights, but their own responsibility. Meekness requires moral and spiritual strength. The Greeks described meekness as a powerful horse who submitted to the bit and reins. See James 3:3 NIV. Biblically, meekness is defined as, “disciplined strength under control.” 1 Peter 2:19-23 NIV.

“The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God . .  who follow His directions, and comply with His designs, and are gentle towards all men; who can bear provocation; either remain silent or return a soft answer; and who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Jesus is the prime example; “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 NKJV. Self-control is not discovered within yourself; such ability comes from obeying the Word of God and submitting to the Holy Spirit. See Galatians 5:22-23 NIV. “Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance . .” Read 1 Timothy 4:8-10 NIV.

God blesses those who are willing to live exemplary, Christ-like lives, “. . for the whole earth will belong to them.” I am not altogether sure of all that His promise involves, but it is true and will be grand.

My prayer for you today is that you discover the joy of a meek and gentle spirit.

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February 4th, 2011

“Train yourself to be Godly . . Godliness has value.” 1 Timothy 4:7 NIV

“Godliness that is born of faith produces a lifestyle that honors God in ordinary ways.”

My thoughts today are about “Godliness.”

How would you describe Godliness? Many descriptions often are somewhat negative, such as: other-worldly, heavenly-minded, impractical, prudish, joyless and boring, disapproving, judgmental, and other similar but inaccurate notions about Godliness. Or people assign idealistic expectations like perfection or never failing, traits that are unreachable for most and far from realistic for any.  Usually such negative ideas come from observing the less than flattering characteristics of a few who profess themselves to be Godly, but really are just religious.

Not surprisingly, the Bible offers a vastly different view. Paul affirmed, Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Tim. 6:6. Peter urged, “Make every effort to add to your . . perseverance, Godliness, and to Godliness brotherly kindness.” 2 Peter 1:5-6 NIV. Such a positive view is normally held by those who have personally known someone whose spiritual life reflected an admirable measure of humility, devotion, integrity, kindness, care for others, and love for God . . not perfect people at all, just redeemed. Redeemed; that’s what distinguishes a Godly person from merely a good person. Godliness that is born of faith produces a lifestyle that honors God in ordinary ways.

Clearly, God values this quality more than man seems to understand it. Who comes to your mind when you think of a Godly person? What about them makes you think of Godliness? Such a quality of spiritual life does not just happen; The Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Train yourself to be Godly . . Godliness has value for all things, holding promise of the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7 NIV. Training to become Godly – living in Truth, following the Lord, and listening to the Spirit – is nothing like trying to seem Godly by being religious.

Training seriously is not easy, requiring dedication, determination, and discipline. The Bible says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening; it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in that way.” Hebrews 12:11 NLT. You do not try to seem Godly in order to be accepted by God; you train to become Godly exactly because you are accepted by God! Godliness is a right response to grace, in which you have been “accepted in the Beloved,” and therefore live in a Godly manner. Read Ephesians 1:3-8 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will not struggle to be good, but strive to be Godly.

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