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Posts Tagged ‘Grace’

Freed To Be Free

July 4th, 2018

A Person or Nation Without God is Without a Destiny.

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Freed to be Free.”

As the United States celebrates our founding as a nation this week, it seems appropriate to remember that we have pledged ourselves to be, “One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Lately, we have not done so well on the, “One nation under God [and] indivisible,” parts.

If those words become just rhetoric rather than authentic conviction, we will have far less to celebrate and much more to regret. The current climate of political and social discourse has created a growing and worrisome gulf between the secular and religious that should be a warning of concern. If we do not do better, we will owe God an apology and our founding Fathers an explanation.

Our nation without God would become a nation without a destiny, lacking the power of conviction to achieve its destiny. Yet there is an even greater truth that I choose to celebrate, the freedom that we have been given in Christ Jesus. Our Sovereign God promises, “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NIV.

The Apostle Paul wrote much about freedom and liberty while living under a Roman government that ruled by power and force, allowing only marginal liberty. To the young and often struggling church, Paul wrote much about the freedom and liberty that is found in Christ.

These past days, one Scripture in particular has occupied my thoughts and is my cause for reflection and rejoicing. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. Four crucial truths are evident in that verse and its surrounding context – God’s initiative in Christ, The Holy Spirit’s objective, your destiny, and your resolve.

(1). INITIATIVE. The redemptive truth of Jesus Christ is this, “Christ has set us free.“ Every good initiative begins in God’s heart. James understood that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.”  James 1:17-18 NIV.

In the purpose of God, you were set free long before you knew you needed or wanted a Savior. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8-9 NKJ. Everything has changed. You are unshackled from your past. You are redeemed, no longer a slave to sin and self.

(2). OBJECTIVE. “It is FOR FREEDOM that Christ has set us free.” Our freedom has always been God’s objective. In Christ, God purposed absolute freedom for all who would embrace the Savior. Christ’s objective was, and remains to be, an all inclusive and enduring freedom. Freedom from your past. Freedom now and freedom throughout your future, with an eternity with Christ and others forever.

 (3). DESTINY. “Stand firm then.” You have a responsibility to stay free, and in the power of the Holy Spirit you are given the ability to live free. Freedom in Christ means much more than forgiveness for your past, or grace in this moment. Freedom is His abiding destiny for your future as well, the promise that you need never be without grace. His grace is ever sufficient. Consider Paul’s words, “This means 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!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

(4). RESOLUTE. Do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. You are free from your history, free from your hurts, free from your weaknesses, free from your failures, free from your regrets, and finally free to embrace your life in Christ and His fullness. “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV.

The last word: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJ.

Today I pray for you to comprehend all that has been given you.

Christian Communications 2018

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Loving Discourse Lessens Discord

June 12th, 2018

Communication enables mutual understanding.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

My thoughts and comments today consider that, “loving discourse lessens discord.”   

Kind and sincere communication is a gift that we give to one another. Communication connects and unifies people. I love a simple, beautiful verse: “Grace is poured upon Your lips.” Psalm 45:2 NKJV. What would your life and relationships look like if grace poured from your lips? Loving discourse lessens discord. In contrast, our world is so torn because individuals persist in being right, however high the price is paid in their dearest relationships. Whether in a marriage, family, friendship, or church, the relationship is left the victim when loving communication breaks down.

Sadly and widely, both public and private discourse seem course today, evidencing less and less grace. Why do we choose dispute over concurrence? Conversations are essential for social interactions and profitable commerce. Communication enables effective collaboration to bring about mutually beneficial understandings. The interaction that communication requires is not optional. Sincere and meaningful communication offers significant benefits such as: proper discourse unifies people, decides purpose, defines progress, and produces greater achievements. Real community is possible only to the extent or limitation of real discussions.

Language is a gift, possessing the power to unite or divide us. A wise person considers their words. Words have potential for good or ill, can help or hurt, heal or wound, increase understanding or create confusion. Your words are always within your authority to speak or remain silent. Speak after forethought and prayerful reflection. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” Proverbs 15:1-2 NIV.

With clarity and authority, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Read Proverbs 4:20-24 NIV. Ask yourself, “Are my words honestly intended, edifying to others, and glorifying to God.”

With King David, we should pray from our heart that our words and thoughts would be these, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. And how can we keep our words and thoughts pleasing in the sight of God and others? Pray as David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV.

Today I pray for you to choose your words to always be both true and kind.

Christian Communications 2018

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The Power of Language

January 17th, 2018

Words mediate differences or exacerbate disagreements.

 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:6 NIV

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

Language is vital for communication and coordination of common efforts. Without communication, many efforts would be futile, achievements minimal, relationships challenging, and misunderstandings numerous. We don’t think much about words, but we certainly use a lot of them. According to Google, a 2013 University of California study concluded that women speak an average of 20,000 words daily, compared to 7,000 words for men. Wisely, I resist endorsing an opinion on that statistic. Imagine what a more current study might include that included texting, Facebook posts, and other social media.

I would note that it matters what you say, and how you say it, more than how much you say. Verbiage and volume are not as important as veracity. Imagine the difficulty of our daily interactions without them, or a conversation when you could not understand another’s words because of language differences. Communication is important. Communication that edifies is essential.

Since you were very small you have been learning and using words while expanding your vocabulary. It is important that you consider the awesome, and sometimes awful, power of the words you speak and the potential effect they have on yourself and others for help or harm. “Words kill; words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Proverbs 18:21 MSG.

With words, you can heal a heart, or wound one. Words mediate differences or exacerbate disagreementsWords speak truth, or spread lies. Words can build friendships, or destroy trust between friends. Words can encourage or dishearten. Words can applaud others or criticize. What you may not realize is that when your words wound someone, your misuse also hurts you in ways you will not at first recognize. Choose them wisely. Speak them kindly.

As a child, I learned a simple rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But that isn’t really true, is it? Many of us bear the lasting imprint of words spoken long ago, whether for good or harm. Some are spoken by us; some were spoken to us. Uncharitable words can leave a hurt far deeper and remaining longer in the heart, but also in the one who speaks them. Careless words cheapen communication and lessen the creative power of your words for good at other times.

God’s feelings about this are clear. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.This should not be!” Read James 3:1-11 NIV. God views your words very seriously because He knows their power and potential for good or evil, for benefit or harm. God warns, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. . . men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Read Matthew 12:33-37 NIV.

Remember that with just a word God created all that we now see and know, and sustains all that He created in the same way. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:3 NIV. You and I certainly do not possess God’s creative power, but as you are made in His image, your words are much more than mere sounds spoken and forgotten. Your words hold seeds of life and blessing, carrying a greater, spiritual dynamic well beyond mere language.

Paul warned that God weighs your words. The gravity of that will cause you to pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV. Whatever your heart privately harbors will ultimately be exposed through your words. Here is practical, Godly advice. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to consider the power and potential of your words, for better or worse.

Christian Communications 2018-107
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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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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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