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A Sabbath Life

June 10th, 2016

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious.

“God ended His work . . and He rested.” Genesis 2:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a Sabbath life.”

Work is an unavoidable, important piece of everyday life; yet it is just not meant to be the only piece. God gave the first work assignment to Adam. See Genesis 2:8-15 NLT. God placed Adam in the midst of a bountiful garden, “to tend and watch over it,” instructing Adam to partner in all God had created. Partnering with God in His will and purpose is your life’s work. You do so in your daily circle of influence and opportunity He has given you.

Your work is your assignment of ministry and your ministry assignment certainly includes your daily work. When your work is different from your Godly assignment, you are neither happy nor fulfilled. Without a sense of assignment, you lack the understanding of what you are doing, the clarity of why, and the conviction that you serve the Lord God. Labor was meant to be fruitful and productive in what God entrusts to your hands. If you read Genesis carefully, you will note that labor, as did most of life’s responsibilities, became hard “work.” I find it interesting that because disobedience, God told the woman that her act of birthing would be with pain and man’s work would be with sweat and struggle. Both of which we now call “labor.” Read Genesis 3:16-19 NLT.

At creation, God established a Sabbath principle by His own example and later established the Sabbath principle in His Law, the Ten Commandments, “six days you shall work, and on the seventh, rest.” Read Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Life is designed for a natural, complementary rhythm of both work and rest. Life is better lived when you are diligent in your work and provide ample room in your schedule for the principle of Sabbath. “We urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you . . we encourage you to do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 NLT.

Sabbath is the attitude in which you live your life before God and others. Here is Jesus’ simple, straightforward invitation: “Come to Me, all of you are who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest . . you will find rest for your souls.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. Rest is more than inactivity. Jesus could say, “The One who sent Me is with me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. A Sabbath life is found in doing only what “pleases Him.” Rest for the soul comes from knowing what you should be doing and doing so as unto the Lord.

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious. When your work becomes unsatisfying, wearying, or worrisome to you, you have lost perspective or misplaced priorities. If your goals are not being achieved however hard you work, your goals are not the same as His goals for you. When your life feels out of order, prayerfully check your priorities and activities and adjust accordingly.

Today, I pray for you to enjoy your work and rest as equally satisfying.

EDL Sabbath

 

Christian Communications 2016

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Character and Reputation

December 13th, 2014

“Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a righteous man.” Matthew 1:19 NIV.

Character and obedience always matter first to God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “character and reputation.”

Joseph is little noticed and under-appreciated in the Christmas drama. Yet God chose Joseph just as carefully as was Mary chosen. Joseph had history and reputation with God. The Bible says that God saw, “Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a righteous man.” Matthew 1:19 NIV. A righteous man; what a description of Godly character. God chose a just and righteous man who would model spiritual devotion and shape the humanity of Jesus. Joseph modeled Godly care and character. His example and personal faith would be extremely influential in the young child’s earliest years.

Mary would need a good hearted man, just and righteous, to accept and protect her. And a kind and caring man to firmly stand between her and the predictable whispers of disapproval, or maybe even the rejection of family. A righteous man would reflect God’s love and protection for Mary. God knew the difficult choices Joseph would face, and God knew that Joseph would make a just and righteous decision. Read Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV. He could protect his good name or provide a home for Mary and this child. He could not do both. In life, hard choices have to be made; not all options are equal.

Jesus would need a Godly father to teach Him the ways of God. Joseph would model the justice and righteousness of God in his home. Character and obedience always matter first to God. When there is something to be done of eternal import, God chooses people who consistently put God first. God’s plans for your life always require a priority of His purpose. Joseph had history with God; God could trust his choices. Do God’s will first and foremost; then all else finds its proper order.

My Dad, a pastor, often “preached” this principle to me, “First things first!” When asked to do something, I usually had a different option I preferred. I always intended to do as he asked, eventually, as convenience and circumstance allowed. My Dad never found that acceptable. As a child, I learned that my convenience was not a substitute for my Dad’s expectations; as an adult, I learned why that is not a strategy that works in life.

Priority evidences importance. You put first who or what you consider to be of first importance. Jesus put the Father first because the Father was His priority. Jesus modeled His priority; “I always do those things that please [the Father].” John 8:29 NKJV. Advent should involve re-structuring the way things have become; “Your Heavenly Father knows all your needs, and He will give you all your need from day to day, if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:33 NLT. Reflect on what your primary concerns and the obedience required to fulfill those should be.

This Christmas seems an opportunity for an honest inventory of how you and your family reflect this practical issue of keeping, “first things first.” Christmas is a good time to be reminded of the Old Testament prophet’s words, “[God] has shown you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. Life is to be lived justly and more sacrificially every day, in every way.

This Advent, my prayer for you is that your history with God releases your destiny in God.

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A Life That Pleases God

June 11th, 2014

“God is giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 NKJV.

A life that pleases God is the life most satisfying for you.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a life that pleases God.”

Some days, you just don’t feel motivated. That’s not too bad unless that becomes true for most days, not just some. Motivation is engendered by having a reward worth acquiring or an accomplishment worthy of achieving, or a relationship worth pleasing. If your motivation is lacking, your efforts will be measured and minimal. If your motivations are unclear or impure, even your best efforts will be ineffective. Your first and enduring motivation should be to live a life that pleases God. A life that pleases God is the life most satisfying for you.

People of good heart want to please others who are important to them, as well they should, but without becoming people pleasers. “Serve [others] sincerely as you would serve Christ. Work hard . . do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Read Ephesians 6:5-8 NLT. One goal must have priority over every other: pleasing God whatever the cost or inconvenience.

“Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV. “The reward of the inheritance” should be your incomparable and eternal motivation. The Apostle Paul held distinct goals for his life and the lives of those in his spiritual care: “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Read Colossians 1:9-12 NKJV. Imagine the satisfaction you would feel with the life Paul describes: worthy, fully pleasing, fruitful, and increasing in knowledge.

Alone, desire and intention are not enough; there is still something more needed. Your will must follow your willingness. Paul’s admonition applies, “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.” 2 Corinthians 8:10-12 NIV. God is not hard to please, not at all like some people for whom, “enough is never enough.” But know this clearly, God does expect your first and best. The life that pleases God loves the will of God, keeps His commands, follows His Word, serves wholeheartedly, considers others important, and lives charitably. Those are big expectations for an individual to fulfill. But Jesus is your example and enabler, “I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV.

Here’s how this works for you. ”For God is working with you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT. What you lack, God offers. As badly as a person may want to live a life pleasing to God, you must also recognize the secret is this: “God is working with you,” producing the desire in you to obey and supplying the power to “do what pleases Him.” What pleases Him? Obeying His will. “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NKJV. The resurrection of Jesus assures you of His power to keep His promises.

Today, my prayer for you is that His pleasure with who you are and what you do is uppermost.

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Accomplishments

July 1st, 2013

“I have glorified You on the earth.” John 17:4 NKJV.

Accomplishments only matter when they have eternal importance and consequence.

My thoughts and comments today are about “accomplishments.”

In one degree or another, you will be measured by your accomplishments. The Sunday paper evidences who and what society considers important. On the front page are the news makers, notable for their public contributions, or notorious for their public failures. The Financial section acknowledges those of acquired wealth and business success. The Sports section boasts the prowess of athletes who excel beyond others. The Social pages portray the enviable lifestyles and social connections of the wealthy and well known. The Entertainment section showcases the fleeting fame of celebrities. Your accomplishments may seem less worthy of public acclaim.

People wrongly measure themselves and others by arbitrary and inaccurate standards. The important thing you must decide is the qualifying standard by which you and your accomplishments will be measured. Jesus held little concern for people’s evaluation of His ministry. His words reveal His accomplishments, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” John 17:4 NKJV. Simple standards, easily evaluated, eternally consequential.

Jesus glorified God on earth. Everything Jesus did was to glorify God – Jesus’ manner of life, “I always do what pleases [the Father].” (John 8:29 NIV) – His words, “I speak to the world those things which I heard from [the Father].” (John 8:26 NKJV) – His actions, “The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing.” (John 5:19 NIV) – and His values and priorities, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30 NKJV. Such accomplishments are exemplary.

Jesus accomplished His assignment. Jesus looked to Father God with perfect confidence, “I have finished the work which You gave me to do.” John 17:4 NKJV. May it never be said of you as has been said of some, “When all is said and done, more was said than ever had been done.” Live to have no regrets. Promises are made but fewer fulfilled; plans considered but not implemented; eager beginnings yet meager completions; unfinished tasks defining uncompleted lives.

Accomplishments only matter when they have eternal importance and consequence. Invest your time, effort, money, and influence in people, not things; people matter eternally. What are you doing that will make the world a better place when you are gone? When you stand before God, every other accomplishment will pale in comparison, except for what was done according to His will, in His name, and for His glory. Jesus’ advice? “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven . .“ Read Matthew 6:19-21 NIV.

At the end of life, others’ opinions matter little; God’s true evaluation matters entirely. May you hear God’s benediction of your accomplishments and benevolent welcome into His eternal fellowship, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:23 NKJV. John glimpsed a bit of Heaven and described those there with these words, “Happy are those who die in the service of the Lord! Yes, indeed. They will enjoy rest from their hard work, because the results of their service go with them.” Revelation 14:13 TEV.

My prayer for you today is that your accomplishments please God more than people.

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Time Well Spent

April 24th, 2013

“Make every minute count.” Ephesians 5:16 CEV.

You cannot buy, borrow, or bargain for more time than God gives.

My thoughts and comments today are about “time well spent.”

Most of everything you use or lose can be replaced, except for time. It is a mistake to not value time as you should or use it as wisely as you could. Time is a limited commodity; you cannot buy, borrow, or bargain for more time than God gives you. Use the time you have, well and wisely. Time is irreplaceable, much too precious to waste; invest in people and matters of eternal importance rather than spending it frivolously. Jesus advised, “Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven . . for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NIV.

James’ counsel was that you not presume anything about tomorrow, because “How do you know what will happen tomorrow?” James 4:13-17 NLT. The Psalmist prayed, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NLT. The wise objective is to prize each moment, investing it wisely as a gift from God. Paul’s counsel is, “Make every minute count . . find out what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:16-17 CEV. Here’s practical advice how to do that.

(1) Just say, “No.” Learning to say no to things – or people – that waste time allows you opportunity to say yes to God’s will, caring for your responsibilities, and being helpful to others. Stress results when you busy yourself with things not your responsibility, or commit to more than you can accomplish in available time. Jesus could confidently say to His Father, “I have finished the work You gave Me to do.” John 17:4 TEV. Jesus was not distracted by lesser matters, understanding personal priorities and knowing what is eternally important.

(2) Avoid procrastination. Ignoring things that must be done wastes time now and usually takes more time later. Personal and spiritual maturity is evidenced by doing what you should even when you don’t feel like doing so, just because that is what you should do. Jesus said, “I always do those things that please [the Father].” John 8:29 NKJV. Can you say that today? My spiritual life improved noticeably when I understood that procrastinated obedience is merely disobedience by lesser name. Read Matthew 21:28-31 NIV. Obeying God promptly and fully is time best spent.

(3) Take time to abide in Christ. Time reflecting on God’s Word, worshiping in His presence, and serving others is time well spent. Jesus was clear,“You cannot be fruitful unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NKJV. You will be more effective, more fruitful, more successful, and so much more satisfied. Listen and learn from the One Who will guide your life and direct your steps. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV. Your time doing so is well spent and makes every other minute more effective. A disciple of Jesus will trust His promise, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness, and all these other things will be provided for you.” Matthew 6:33. Life works best God’s way. First things first” is always good advice.

My prayer for you today is that you value time and use it with eternal purpose in mind.

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