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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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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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Daily Bread

October 16th, 2015

“I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” John 6:35 NIV.

External things never satisfy eternal cravings.

My thoughts and comments today are about “daily bread.”

Hunger is a powerful motivation, impossible to ignore completely. God crafted your body to recognize its need for replenishing, whether for nutrition, exercise, or rest. The body responds to its lack by sending a signal and demanding a response. When the body’s need is not replenished, the body redirects the diminishing supply of nutritional resources to its vital organs. To adequately supply the heart, lungs, and brain, the body grows weaker waiting for nourishment, as the process of starving begins.

The human spirit is similar, requiring nourishment and replenishing. Make no mistake; there is a hunger of the soul. People ignore the hunger of the inner man or misinterpret their inner longings, trying in vain to fill a growing emptiness with things that never satisfy – money, possessions, busyness, thrills, amusements, sex, drugs, alcohol – always to excess yet never enough. External things never satisfy eternal cravings.

Too many fail to recognize the origin of the soul’s hunger. Jesus spoke plainly and confidently, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NIV. Listen to your heart; feed your soul; nourish your spirit; discover full satisfaction. Satisfaction is found only in Christ.

The Bread of Life desires that you know He alone will satisfy your supreme longings. His provision is abounding. Jesus is life exalting and eternal life assuring. It’s simple really; you have to come to Him. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 NIV. Jesus declared Himself to be that daily bread. “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51 NIV.

Job got it right, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12 KJV. Let’s be practical. You receive this life-giving, daily bread through the discipline of spiritual practices: worship (John 4:23-24), prayer and praise (Ephesians 6:18), personal Bible study (Psalm 119:11), meditation of Scripture (Psalm 1:1-3), and meaningful fellowship with others who seek the same Source and satisfaction. (Acts 2:42/46 NIV). Spiritual disciplines provide satisfaction that is much more full and lasting than any and everything else with which you might attempt to appease the spiritual hunger within. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . they shall be completely satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 NIV/AMP. In Jesus, your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Today, I pray for you to have an appetite for things that satisfy.

EDL pix basket of bread

 

 

 

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Suffering

August 21st, 2015

“What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.” Romans 8:18 NLT.

Job’s story was written to show God’s faith in Job, not Job’s faith in God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “suffering.”

First let me say, I do not presume to know all the answers about suffering. But this I know, God sorrows when we suffer. For any of us, suffering presents more questions than provides answers. In the Bible, a whole book is about the suffering of Job, a man the God described as, “blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” Job 1:1 NLT. Very few, if any, have experienced the breadth and depth of loss and pain that Job suffered. Read Job 1:13-2:10 NLT.

And therein is the dilemma for most of us. We assume suffering is the natural result of our own wrongdoing or the fault of others. Admittedly, those often do cause suffering. But how do you explain suffering where there is no fault to be assessed? Amid the pain of suffering there are questions and uncertainties. In the truth of God’s Word and His righteous character, you will find rest for body, mind, and soul. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, [produces] character; and character [produces] hope.” Romans 5:3-4 NIV.

This week, a pastor and friend, Dennis, shared an inspiring insight about the sufferings of Job. Let me share an excerpt with you. “The patriarch Job had lost his possessions, family, friends and health, Satan himself tried to take his mind. Chapter after chapter, Job anguishes over the hopelessness of his life. He asked the question we all ask, ‘Where is God in all of this?’ Unlike you and me, Job really had lost everything. He really was hopeless. Even his wife and friends’ advice was, ‘Give up, curse God and die.’ So where was God?

You have to go back to the beginning of the story. The devil had presented a challenge to God, saying he could destroy the faith of God’s servant. God accepted the challenge and allowed Satan to attack everything that Job had, except his life. Read Job 1:6-12 NLT. In a nutshell that is the story.

But underneath the story is a truth that is missed by most. A casual glance would say that God was testing Job’s faith to see if he could stand in the crisis. That is not the case. Job’s life-story was not written to show his faith in God, but written to show God’s faith in Job. Think about it. Satan challenged God that he could destroy the righteous believer’s faith. God chose one man to be tested, Job.

In essence, God places all of His faith in that man to stand in the day of trouble. God believed the very best in Job – in fact, He believed in Job more than Job believed in himself. Since God has faith in you, maybe it’s time to put your faith in Him.” Dennis Gallaher, ActLikeMenBlog.

If you could hear the conversation about you in Heaven, you would not doubt your strength in Christ to persevere. This is the perspective God honors, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.” Romans 8:18 NLT. Your story is being written to show God’s faith in you, not your faith in God. Stop trying to have faith that impresses God. Start living a life that pleases God; give God reason to have faith in you. “Praise be to the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles.” Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-10 NIV.

Here is Peter’s perspective on righteous suffering, “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 1 Peter 2:19-21 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to persevere in suffering, assured of the character and faithfulness of your God.

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Coincidence and Providence

April 15th, 2015

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Ephesians 1:18 NIV.

There are supernatural moments woven into the fabric of daily life.

My thoughts and comments today are about “coincidence and providence.”

There are things that just seem to happen amid the routines of everyday life. Are those occurrences random coincidence or divine providence? Some things just happen as a part of life; you and I are not exempt from those but we are accompanied by God at all times in every circumstance. Read 2 Kings 6:13-17 NIV. There are also moments of divine purpose and appointment. I do not live in a world where anything and everything is merely random chance. I choose to believe such moments can be providential, evidence of a Father’s loving involvement and personal investment in my well-being, and yours. Job trusted God, “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit.” Job 10:12 NIV.

EDL pic heartA friend advised me, “When you only look for God in the sensational and spectacular, you will often miss the supernatural.” In the midst of the apparently ordinary, there should be moments when something occurs to open your eyes, allowing you to sense the discreet evidences of the surprising, extraordinary, and supernatural being purposefully woven into the daily fabric of your life. Expecting God to be present in ordinary events is the prerequisite for experiencing His loving company and care.

With assurance, David wrote of the faithfulness of God, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm [He delights in every detail of their lives/NLT]; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Psalm 37:23-25 NIV. How confidently would you live if assured of the constancy of God’s favor and delight?

Elijah’s life seemed out of control, the victory over the 450 false prophets on Mt. Carmel now a fading memory. Read 1 Kings 19. Now Elijah felt the terror of fear. The wicked, powerful queen vowed to end the prophet’s meddling once and for all. The once courageous prophet was now fearful, fleeing from the queen until completely exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. His fear was real but exaggerated; his discouragement was overwhelming; his emotions were uncontrollable; his despair was unmanageable. Then God appeared to Elijah. God was not absent until that moment; He was there all the time. “And the Lord said, ‘Go and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’” 1 Kings 19:11 NIV.

There was a tornadic wind, “But the Lord was not in the wind.” Then a shattering earthquake, “But the Lord was not in the earthquake.” And then a raging fire, “But the Lord was not in the fire.” God is not always found in the sensational and spectacular. Elijah felt as emotional frayed and physically vulnerable as a man could be. “And then there came a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-13. That “still, small voice” was the discreet evidence of God, present and gloriously at work in spite of everything Elijah was feeling and fearing. There are supernatural moments woven into the fabric of daily life. Look for God and listen for His voice.

Keep a quiet heart before God and eyes open for the discreetly supernatural; you will discover where God’s love, grace, and kindness will be found in the ordinary starts and stops of daily life. I repeat my friend’s observation and warning, “When you only look for God in the sensational and spectacular, you will often miss the supernatural.” Paul’s prayer is also mine, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.” Read Ephesians 1:15-21 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is that your heart is attracted to Him, not distracted by what surrounds.

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