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Anticipation

January 5th, 2018

Anticipate Grace and Goodness.

“You crown the year with Your goodness.”

Psalm 65:11 NKJV.

My comments today encourage you to, “Anticipate Grace.”

Years earlier, I read a poem that I occasionally recall, especially at the start of a new year.

I wish that there were some wonderful place, In the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, And all of our poor selfish grief, Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, and never put on again.

I wish we could come on it all unaware, Like the hunter who finds a lost trail; And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done, The greatest injustice of all, Could be there at the gates, like an old friend that waits, For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.

We would find all the things we intended to do, But forgot, and remembered too late, Little praises unspoken, little promises broken, And all the thousand and one, Little duties neglected that might have perfected, The day for one less fortunate.

It wouldn’t be possible not to be kind, In the Land of Beginning Again, And the ones we misjudged, and the ones whom we grudged, their moments of victory here, Would find in the grasp of our loving hand-clasp, More than penitent lips could explain.

So I wish that there were some wonderful place, Called the Land of Beginning Again, Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, And all of our poor selfish grief, Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, And never put on again.

Louisa Fletcher 1878-1957, “The Land of Beginning Again”

Regrets. We all have them. Grace. We are all offered that. Any year can end with uncompleted plans, unachieved goals, and lingering uncertainty about the road ahead. Along the way, we seem to accumulate spiritual and emotional baggage from regrets, hurts, disappointments in ourselves or others, and unfinished business. Wouldn’t you like to not drag those into another year? Against the backdrop of such things, we should remember God’s promise, “’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 29:11-12 NIV. Hope without a future is meaningless, as is a future without hope.

In this new year, anticipate God’s grace and goodness, expressed in fresh beginnings unencumbered by the weight of past mistakes and regrets. “My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:5-6 NLT. For you, God offers a fresh opportunity overflowing with certainty that your past is settled in grace, and abounding with confidence that the present is secure in His providence, and brimming with courage that all which is now unknown is securely held in God’s hands.

And of this, you can affirm about our God, “You crown the year with a bountiful harvest: even your hard pathways overflow with abundance.” Read Psalm 65:11 NLT. Every path ahead may not be easy, but every path where He leads will be graced by His loving presence and ample provision.

This is among my favorite promises from God’s Word. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NKJV. In Jesus Christ, always awaiting you is, “a land of new beginnings.” Don’t drag the old year into the new; allow the new year to redeem the old. Anticipate grace and goodness.

Today, I pray for you to know you are graced by God and crowned with His goodness.

Christian Communications 2018

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Hope and Optimism

January 6th, 2017

You crown the year with Your goodness; Your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:11

Optimism is the language of hope.

My thoughts and comments today are about “hope and optimism.”

God’s Word holds so much promise for this time of year. Optimism hears God’s whisper in your heart that your past need be no predictor of your future. Optimism is the language of hope. Let the New Year reflect your hope, not your tears. Tears express yesterday’s disappointment; hope affirms the promises and providence God holds for your future.

My thoughts have been drawn to the Psalmist David’s declaration of hope, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance . . the pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing.” Read Psalm 65:9-13 NKJV. Take a moment and re-read those verses, deliberately and thoughtfully. A more contemporary translation reads, “What a rich harvest your goodness provides! Wherever you go there is plenty.” Psalm 65:11 TEV.

Pause and reflect over what King David wrote. He joins the past, present, and future and rejoices that amid all, God is generously benevolent. I love David’s poetic imagery. The year – every single day of it – is crowned, adorned with the faithfulness and goodness of God. Prophetically, David declares that his and your journey throughout the year, “overflows with abundance.” David further describes God as the One, “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord o my soul and forget not all of His benefits . . Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things.” Read Psalm 103:1-5 NKJV. Out of His goodness, God, “heals . . forgives . . redeems . . crowns . . satisfies.” There is consistency in the nature and character of God.

Deliberation at the close of a year and the fresh beginnings of a new year can be beneficial when appraising the recent past; a lovely place to visit, not a place to dwell. Whatever your previous experience, God has even better things ahead for you. Embracing and rejoicing in God’s provision is your righteous response to God’s goodness. David had no doubts; the goodness of God was assured and unchanging. “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6 NLT.

A New Year can be, and should be, a freshly hopeful season for you. But a change of calendar alone is inadequate to accomplish that. Whatever your circumstances, I do know that all things didn’t always go the way you planned last year. They never do. Expectations are rarely as you hope. Relationships seldom endure as you would like. Explanations rarely come when you expect. But God will be as He has promised to be. Your past is settled in grace; the present is safely in His care; your future is secure in His providence and, “crowned with goodness.”         

Praying for a Blessed and Graced New Year for you.

Christian Communications 2016

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The Holy Spirit

August 5th, 2016

The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for your powerlessness.

“Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “the Holy Spirit.”

Life can be challenging. And that just might be the understatement of the year. Daily life presents situations that confront your lack of knowledge, understanding, ability, and/or resources. That fact we all have in common. Just “toughing it out” doesn’t work so well in many situations. Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue result from those challenges. David, the courageous victor over Goliath, still experienced difficulties beyond his abilities, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:12-13 NKJV.  Don’t lose heart. You will see the goodness of the Lord in this lifetime.

Spiritual life is also challenging. Consequential decisions for yourself and family are a daily occurrence. Previous experience or the advice of friends does not always offer the depth of knowledge and wisdom that you need. Of ourselves, we are insufficient for all of the demands, necessities, and challenges life presents. God always provides the answer. The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for your powerlessness. “The Spirit of the Lord [is] the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJV. Sufficiency is found in God because God alone is sufficient. Read 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV.

God’s desire and supply are simple, direct, practical, and achievable. “Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV. The New Testament is translated from Greek, which is grammatically distinct and layered with meaning. In Paul’s instruction, “Be filled” is the Greek verb, Pleroo, which is “imperative, present tense, plural, and passive voice.” The command is imperative, a command to be obeyed; present tense, continuous in duration; plural, for all without exception; passive voice, a grace gift to the hungry. A literal translation is: “All of you, be continuously filled with the Spirit and continually controlled by the Spirit.” Our generous, gracious God fills the heart and life where He is invited.

Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being . . to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is as Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV.

Christian Communications 2016

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Holy Spirit

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A Place for You

February 27th, 2016

A place for you Puzzle

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High abides under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek.

My thoughts and comments are about, “a place for you.”

Too many people spend a lot of life looking for the right place. Some eventually succeed; many never find that place however long and hard they have looked. They never find the friends they wanted, the marriage they assumed would be theirs, the city they love, or the job for which they dreamed. If you look for the wrong things, you invest a lot of time and energy on a fool’s errand. Some look for right things but in wrong places.

My friend, Dick, describes the Gospel this way, “Jesus left His place, to come to your place, to take your place, to take you to His place.” To His worried disciples Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there shall you be also.” John 14:2-3 NKJV. God’s plan has not changed; God has a place prepared for His people, and that begins here and now as well. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

Here’s some special things about that sacred, secret place in God. There you will find, “a large place [of deliverance]” Psalm 18:19 KJV, “a hiding place” Psalm 32:7 NIV, “a place [of abundance]” Psalm 66:12 NIV, “a broad place [without fear]” Psalm 118:5-6 NKJV, “a place [of one accord]” Acts 2:1 NKJV, and “a place of inheritance” Hebrews 11:8 NIV. Is there any better place? Find the place God has just for you. He knows the spouse to complement you, the friends you need, the job you’ll love, and where you will find the greatest joy and fulfillment. Before God created Adam, He prepared a wonderful, perfect place for him, a garden of beauty and plenty. Read Genesis 2:8-17 NKJV. He would not do less for you.

If you know all that is good that is in God’s place for you, why would you look for sustenance and satisfaction elsewhere? Sin may at first appear appealing, but it brings only temporary happiness. I have observed some consequences about sin. Sin costs you more than you expected to pay, takes you further than you meant to go, keeps you longer than you planned to stay, and leaves you where you never expected to be. That is not where you find life more abundantly. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would leave with the crowd, Peter got it right, “Too whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 NIV. Find your place in God’s grace, will, and purpose, and be settled there with unwavering confidence, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” Genesis 28:16 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to abide where grace and goodness abounds.

Christian Communications 2016-9217
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Asking God’s Help

February 20th, 2016

 

“With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NKJV.

Ask for what will most give God pleasure to provide.

My thoughts today are about, “asking God’s help.”

Asking seems such a simple thing; yet people often seem reluctant to ask for assistance. We prefer the illusion of self-sufficiency. Maybe we think our own efforts – experience, abilities, and resources – should be adequate. I am not sure if it is being too proud to ask or if it is a misguided insistence on self-reliance, trying to take care of ourselves before we “bother God” with our needs. God is never bothered by sincere requests for His help. “He who comes to God must believe . . that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

It is foolish to presume that God can’t provide your needs, or worse yet, that He won’t. Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11-12 NIV. Love chooses the practical expression of generosity. Giving finds its greatest joy in providing what is needed, or even most desired. Let God be your first resource rather than your last. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Your Heavenly Father is saddened when you fail to ask Him for what you lack and need. James, the brother of Jesus, framed the problem with words of both counsel and caution. “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:3 NLT. James saw the problem of unanswered prayer as either failure to ask or selfish motives; both are easy to correct. Ask for what you believe will most give God pleasure to provide.

Speaking of common, everyday concerns, Jesus said, “These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Luke 12:30-31 NLT. He expects only the simplest thing of you. All you have to do is ask, “anything according to His will . . and you know you will have what you asked.” 1 John 5:14-15.

Do not be hesitant to ask, but trust His sovereignty and goodness, and then rest content. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to feel free to ask, confident to trust, and grateful to receive.

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