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Questions and Doubts

August 23rd, 2018

Questions Are Inevitable. Doubts Are Avoidable.

“All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Questions and Doubts.”

To any honest heart, there are times and occasions in life that produce questions. With our limited perspective and imperfect knowledge, many times and many things don’t appear to make sense at the moment. Times and things introduce uncertainty. At one time or another, everyone has questions. If you haven’t, you either have not lived long enough or faced anything tough enough if life has not made you ask why on occasion.

Maybe you have felt guilty and swallowed your questions rather than ask them. Know this. God is not threatened by your questions nor surprised by your bewilderment. In the agony of the Cross, Jesus cried out to His Father, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” His words came from the depths of His humanity. He had questions, but He did not yield to doubt. Before Jesus breathed His last breath on that cross, He turned His face toward the future and His Father, and said, “Father, I entrust my spirit into Your hands. And with those words Jesus breathed His last.” Luke 23:46 NLT. His final words were faith- filled.

Whatever the circumstances of my life or death, I choose to submit my feelings and fears to truth and trust. If Jesus can find peace and faith in such a moment as He faced, He will empower you and me to do so as well. Preparing for the cross as Jesus prayed to His Father, His future was secured by His words, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done!” Jesus had questions, but He did not succumb to doubt.

Questions are inevitable. Questions can play a vital role in learning. Questions push you beyond the known and understood to what has not been previously considered. Great discoveries and advances in technology advances have happened because someone asked questions no one else bothered to ask. A person does not have faith because they have no questions. If you had no questions, why would you need faith? Faith looks at the hardest questions, and though often without answers, simply trusts God’s love, wisdom, and sufficient grace.

You may struggle to resolve your questions. But you must choose to deal with your doubts. You can be without doubts while wrestling with the toughest questions, maybe even unanswerable ones. Paul did not say that was easy to do, but he does show that it is possible to do. Read the context of today’s verse. “None of these things move me.” Acts 20:24. Paul knew he was facing, “jail and suffering.” Read Acts 20:22-23 NKJ and 21:10-14 NIV. For any thinking person, that would raise some unsettling questions. I would expect Paul had questions about that. I would; you likely would as well.

When you are uncertain, and questions trouble your mind and rob your peace, concentrate on what is certain and unchanging and rest your questions there. That place is the Word and character of God. When there seems too much that you do not know, be sure of what you do know. Paul wrote, “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is complete comes, what is partial will be done away  . . now I know partially, then I will know fully just as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NIV. Dwell on what you know. Deal with what you don’t. Rest in what God says.

What leaves more unanswered questions than death, and resurrection? After Paul’s expansive defense of the Resurrection, he summarizes this way, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Those admirable character qualities – “steadfast, immovable, and always abounding” –  evidence a mature Christian who has asked their questions and chosen to move beyond their doubts to rest peacefully in God and His character and Word.

Even when there are serious questions, you can still live and trust with no doubts about God. Paul is a prime example. From prison, he wrote to young Timothy, “I am suffering here in prison . . but I know the One in whom I trust, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT.

Today, I pray you will submit your questions and surrender your doubts to God.

Christian Communications 2018

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Distractions and Diversions

May 28th, 2014

“Anyone who starts to plow, then keeps looking back is of no use . .” Luke 9:62 TEV.

The devil is the master of distraction and deception.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions and diversions.”

Distractions happen. Distractions waste more of a person’s time than we realize when they occur. Ironically, while writing this, I became distracted. That happens easily to any of us. Interruptions occur; misdirection results. Here’s the problem. Typically, you are not interrupted by more important matters. Usually, lesser things crowd into your life and crowd out of your life things you cannot afford to procrastinate. Your success results from setting priorities, maintaining focus, and avoiding distraction.

A distraction can be a brief, pleasant diversion. However, any diversion has potential for a misdirection you may not intend. That can be costly if not noticed and corrected. Unfortunately, distractions come in all shapes and descriptions, some in the pretense of responsibilities or others disguised as opportunities. The devil is the master of distraction and deception, using love of the world, desires, worry, regret, greed, anger, offences, or temptations to dissuade you from being the person Christ means you to be.

Jesus spoke of the danger of spiritual distraction, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.” Read Luke 9:57-62 TEV. See John 6:66-69 NIV. Jesus’ clearest teaching on distraction is found in a parable He told. Read Matthew 13:3-8 NIV. The same seed – with incalculable potential for good – had differing results, according to the reception of its truth. Jesus was not talking about farmers and fields, nor seed and soils. In His story, Jesus was describing people into whose hearts and lives the Word of God was sown, inefficiently in some but effectively in others. Read Matthew 13:18-23 NIV. Whatever diminishes your obedience to God’s Word, His will, and His ways is a distraction you cannot afford.

Beware; distractions preempt attention from what God is saying and doing in your life. “The evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” Vs 19. Your spiritual life requires priority and focus. Distractions dull God’s calling in your heart and diminish His dreams for you before their time of harvest.

Be careful; distractions prevent the Word of God from becoming rooted in your heart. “Since he has no root, he lasts only for a short time. When trouble comes . . he quickly falls away.” Vs 20-21. Avoid shallow convictions and superficial faith. See Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV.

Be watchful; distractions preoccupy your mind with worries and fears instead of God’s Word. “The worries of this life choke [the Word], making it unfruitful.” Vs 22. Worry ignores God’s Word while consuming thoughts and emotions with fear, suffocating hope, and destroying expectation. See Philippians 4:6-8 NLT/2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Jesus’ conclusion is, “. . the man who hears the Word of God and understands it. He produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” Vs 23. Paul was neither distracted nor dissuaded, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . . one thing I do, forgetting . . reaching . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Acts 20:22-24/Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding.

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Distractions

January 3rd, 2014

“I am doing a great work.” Nehemiah 6:3 NKJV.

The things that make you unique enable your success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions.”

In serving God and others, you are given something meaningful to do that is unique to yourself – your interests, experiences, natural talents, and spiritual giftedness. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another . . let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV. The things that make you unique enable your success. Your success and corresponding satisfaction result from discovering your life-calling and dedicating yourself to achieve that to the best of your ability and opportunity. Read 1 Timothy 4:14/2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV.

The obstacles to success can be many, and common among those are distractions. From those, discouragement results. Distraction creates detours and dead ends. The enemy of everything God wants to do in your life, and with your life, is the master of distraction and author of discouragement. Paul was ruthless about unprofitable distractions, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing; forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize . .” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Distractions can come in many forms – ambivalence, fear, doubts, busyness, tiredness, delays, disappointments, opposition, others’ opinions, people’s expectations, mistreatment, competing options, and/or people’s expectations. Every step in a wrong direction diminishes accomplishing your purpose and faithfulness to your calling. Jesus said, ”No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NKJV.

Nehemiah is a good example of avoiding distractions. From his zeal for God came a divine call to lead the monumental reconstruction project of Jerusalem. Read Nehemiah 2:1-18 NKJV. Because Nehemiah had a mission, vision, passion, and conviction, he succeeded where others failed. Besides the immense task, there were also enemies who opposed the rebuilding altogether. There will always be resistance – internal and/or external. After repeated attempts to dissuade Nehemiah from his work by ridicule, false accusations, threats, and even plots to harm him, his enemies finally sought to distract him – possibly their most devilish strategy.

“Our enemies . . sent to me, saying, ‘Come; let us meet together’. . but they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:2-4 NKJV. Four times Nehemiah refused their efforts to distract him. Anything other than what God called him to do was lesser, and lesser things were irrelevant to Nehemiah. Compare Matthew 4:1-11 NIV.

The conviction, “I am doing a great work,” allows for no debate. If your efforts are not eternally consequential – important to yourself, others, and God – then reassess your priorities. Is there anything distracting you from doing God’s will? “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain.” See 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you dedicate yourself to the will and purposes of God.

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Immovable

April 21st, 2010

“Stand firm. Let nothing move you.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

“Refuse to be discouraged by difficulty or dissuaded by doubters.”

My thoughts today are about being “immovable.”

Frank Sinatra sang, “When an irresistible force such as you, meets an immovable object like me – somethin’s gotta give.” Are you immovable? Everybody feels like quitting sometimes, but nobody wants to be a quitter. There are times and things you should quit; you pretty well know what those are. There are times and things when you should not. You need to learn what those are also. The trick is to know which is which.

If you are doing what you should not be doing, you cannot quit that fast enough. And if what you are doing is not working out for you, it’s probably a good time to reconsider and try something different. But if you are doing what you ought to be doing, and if it’s not working just because you are not working hard enough, that’s definitely not the time to quit. You may need to quit your half-hearted efforts and give up your lame excuses for doing so, but do not give up on yourself, others, or God. Read Psalm 62:5-8 NKJV.

Nehemiah is a good example of a leader and worker who would not quit what he was called by God to do. He refused to be discouraged by difficulty or dissuaded by doubters. When the enemies of Jerusalem’s rebuilding wanted to stop the work being rapidly accomplished on repairing and restoring the city’s walls, they repeatedly asked for a meeting with Nehemiah. Listen to his no-nonsense response, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and come down to you?” Read Nehemiah 6:1-9 NAS. The enemy of your soul will try anything to “get you down,” like they tried to get Nehemiah down. Has it been working?

As a boy, when I would complain about a classmate’s criticism, my Dad sometimes quoted this, “I hate the guys who criticize and minimize the other guys, whose enterprise has made them rise above the guys who criticize and minimize.” The enemy cannot get you down as long as you will rise above. Dad expected me to be one who “rises above.” With that perspective, I realized it really only mattered that I thought what I was doing was the right thing. You have to know absolutely that what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing, in obedience to God and with His blessing.

The enemy’s goal is still the same, to get you to quit what you should not quit – doing the very thing God has promised to bless. “So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 NAS. The enemy’s tactics are also the same – worry over less than ample resources and ability, and weariness in the labor and difficulty of your task. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not. As you have opportunity, do good to all men.” Galatians 6:9-10 KJV. There are times you have to just keep on keeping on.

And if those devilish schemes don’t succeed in your quitting, your enemy will use warfare. “Put on God’s armor so that you will be able to stand against all strategies and tricks of the devil . . not fighting against flesh and blood, but against . . mighty powers of darkness . . resist the enemy so that after every battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground.” Read Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you remain steadfast, unmovable, always abounding!

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Dependability

September 18th, 2009

Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

“Dependability is priceless!”

My thoughts today are about “dependability.”

Who comes to mind when you think of dependability? There is something about that quality that stands out as admirable and reliable. Do you think that you come to mind when your family or friends think of dependability? Today’s culture doesn’t seem to value that character trait very much it would appear to me, but God does and a lot of others as well. “Continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the Gospel” Colossians 1:23 NIV.

Have you heard the expression “fifteen minutes of fame”? The crowd’s favor and interest seems to have the shelf life of day old bread. Attention is limited to hot topics, latest trends, new faces, and rising stars, which elevates the temporary and depreciates values that are tested and enduring. What else explains the popularity of Twitter? How much of lasting importance can be contained in 140 letters, answering the question, “What are you doing?” That is not as relevant as what you want to do with your life!

You live in an age of information that is woefully lacking in real communication. Immediacy is not better than quality. We have been given wonderful tools, but are content to use them as toys. We have taken an amazing world of incredible technology and instantaneous information that makes your reach worldwide but often leaves relationships an inch deep. I am not so much impressed by how many “friends” you have on Facebook, as you should be interested in how many friends you have that you can depend on and how many know they can depend on you.

Did you notice the surrounding context of today’s verse? The entire 15th chapter establishes the reality and certainty of Jesus’ Resurrection. Because of the power of that reality, you can be “steadfast and immovable,” whatever the circumstance of the moment. Let the joyful affirmation of the preceding verse reverberate in your heart in every troubling time and situation, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV.

It is not always easy to be dependable. Sometimes it is just hard work. Sometimes it involves doing what you are tired of doing, and at an inconvenient time. The Apostle Paul who wrote the instruction of today’s verse knew what he was talking about. When he was told that to continue his journey would mean sacrifice and suffering, Paul responded, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself.” Read Acts 20:18-24 NKJV.

And our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 NKJV), knelt in a garden there when facing betrayal and death yet prayed, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42 NIV. A world bound in its sins was depending on Him, just as you and I do today. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NIV. Dependability is priceless!

And the result? The Bible promises that life will be abundant and most satisfying when you are, “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Abounding! That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

My prayer for you today is to be someone God and others can depend upon.

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