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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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Abiding and Abounding Love

August 25th, 2017

Nothing lasts without God as its source and center.

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love.” 1 Thess 3:12 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Abiding and Abounding Love.”

Loving and being loved is essential to a healthy, happy life. After listing multiple, essential Christian graces – compassion, kindness, humility, patience, gentleness, and forgiveness – Paul added, And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Read Colossians 3:12-14 NIV. All else is incomplete without sincere love at its heart. Love contains and completes all other Godly virtues. Love for God and one another is the crowning grace of all else. But love is never easy all the time.

Conditions complicate love. Sometimes without realizing your having done so, you may have thought to yourself, “I will love you, as long as you ( fill in your conditions ).” Love with limitations will always be taking inventory, making sure your conditions are being met. Provisional love will neither produce nor protect strong marriages, nor safe homes, nor solid friendships. Conditional love cannot hold people together when misunderstandings inevitably arise or when the blush of love’s emotion wanes.

In contrast, Jesus’ love for you is unconditional, just as He commands you to love others. “Now I am giving you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT. That is a high standard, but a lesser goal will not sustain your faith in all times, nor friendships for a long time, nor love for a lifetime.

Do you want to know God’s practical benchmarks of love in daily life? God’s Word says what love is and love is not. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT. Did you notice the last characteristic? “Love endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever!” Even when you feel like it won’t; it will. Forever does not begin in eternity. Forever begins now and reaches across and throughout eternity.

“I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV. Such persevering love rests on the firm foundation of His own love for you. “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope.” Lamentations 3:22-24 TEV.

Nothing lasts without God as its Source and Center. This is my prayer and hope for you today. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NKJV. Love will not endure unless God originates and sustains it. God is the only source of abiding and abounding love. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” John 15:9-10 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that out of God’s wondrous love, you will love always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Profitable People

March 9th, 2017

Never overlook the treasure in an earthen vessel

“[Onesimus] once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.” Philemon 9

My thoughts and comments today are about “profitable People”

The bottom line for every business endeavor or financial investment is calculating the potential for profit and loss. If you only generate a loss, you are soon out of business. Without a profit, you have a hobby, not a business. Profit and loss is easy when adding or subtracting numbers in a spreadsheet or database. But life and relationships require more than data and numbers. Numbers are static; people are dynamic. In relationships, you are dealing with lives, not ledgers. Figuring profit and loss there is more complex, less plain and simple. Numbers are just what they are. People can become more than they were.  

In Paul’s New Testament letter to Philemon we are introduced to Onesimus, a runaway slave from Philemon’s home. To escape recapture and punishment, Onesimus fled to Rome where Paul was imprisoned. Whether by intention or divine appointment, he met the Apostle and through Paul’s witness was converted. In his letter to Philemon, Paul wrote of Onesimus who, “once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.” Read Philemon 1-25 NLT. Those words intrigue me. His past was past; his future was changed. It seems ironic that his name, Onesimus, means “useful,” yet he was once considered, “unprofitable.” Paul affirmed the sincere conversion of Onesimus in these words, “[Onesimus] now is useful to you and to me.”

Paul’s description of Onesimus piqued my thoughts with a practical question. How can you and I increase our worth in another’s life? Doing things worthwhile to another’s well-being increases your worth to them. As a beginning, the New Testament is filled with multiple, practical instructions of appropriate, unselfish, Godly behavior toward one another, such as, “Serve one another in love . . the entire Law is summed up in a single command: love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 NIV.

Humility is a virtue in your dealings with others. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” 1 Peter 5:5 NIV. You and I are profitable to others when we contribute more to them than we require of them. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV. Profitable people never overlook the treasure in an earthen vessel. As the Lord’s servants, we are called to encourage one another, recognizing the profit and potential in others and affirming that with our words to them and our actions toward them.

On another occasion, Paul also affirmed another young companion who had previously disappointed him. See Acts 15:37-40 NKJV. Older and wiser, Paul asked Timothy, “Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV. Ask yourself, have I lived in a practical, beneficial way toward others today? Every day, find practical ways to serve others. And begin at home.

Today, I pray for you to be found profitable in the purposes of God for your life and others.

Christian Communications

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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.

Christian Communications 2016
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Christmas Generosity

December 22nd, 2015

 

“Manage [your God-given gifts] well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” I Peter 4:10 NLT.

Generosity of heart engenders generosity of hand.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Christmas generosity.”

When the Wise Men followed the miraculous star to the Christ child of whom the prophets had written, “They fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 NKJV. In grateful humility, they presented themselves as preface to their gifts. Generosity overflows from grateful hearts. Generosity of heart engenders generosity of hand.

Let’s be practical; who doesn’t enjoy receiving good gifts? As I write, my wife, Gayle, is wrapping Christmas presents. As our family has grown with kids, grandkids, spouses and in-laws, and now great grandkids – and when you add to those the number of friends with which we have exchanged gifts across the years – there are a lot of presents to give. The Christmas celebration includes the practical expression of generosity. Generosity is the DNA of Christmas. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV. Giving is God’s nature.

Receive gratefully, then give generously. There is joy in shopping, choosing, and giving thoughtfully selected gifts. Paul recalled Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV. When you understand the principle, it is plain and simple; giving produces the greater blessing. God doesn’t promise to multiply what you are given; generously, He blesses what you give. Read Luke 6:38 NLT. Solomon wisely encouraged, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NLT.

You are gifted. God made you with unique gifts to offer others generously. “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT. Celebrate Christmas generously, neither measured nor managed. Be generous practically, giving patience, kindness, mercy, grace, love, and such like. Be generous personally, living without constraint. Be generous spiritually, sharing God’s love faithfully. Be generous financially, giving thoughtfully. Be generous emotionally, forgiving unconditionally. Forgiveness is given not loaned. Jesus was clear, “Give as freely as you have received.” Matthew 10:8 NLT. Be that person.

Today, I pray for you to practice generosity until that becomes your natural expression.

Christian Communications 2015

Generosity

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