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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph’

Goals

January 25th, 2017

A worthy goal is beyond your present abilities and fears

My thoughts and comments today are about, “goals.”

“I press on toward the goal . . for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

What could your life be if you cast aside the self-imposed limits? Never settle for a life too small. Life is an adventure for those with God alive within. It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try. But be sure your goals are God’s goals for you. A God-sized goal will be further than your reach, greater than your abilities, and bigger than your fears. In those, your personal satisfaction and success will be found.

You will never achieve your best without noble goals. Don’t waste time or resource with things that give you no pride of achievement. You will always have more potential than you have yet achieved. Yet goals alone do not insure success. Extraordinary achievement requires enthusiasm, energy, and exertion.

Joseph embraced goals that preceded his life and would extend well beyond it. He understood his unique place in history as well as destiny. As he prepared to die, he avowed, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . then you must carry my bones up from this place.” See Genesis 50:24-26/Exodus13:18-19 NIV. Joseph’s heart held a goal surpassing his ability to achieve and extending beyond his lifetime. In comparison, some of our miniscule goals seem embarrassingly small for God.

Reaching all your goals is not the highest achievement of success. If and when you have done that, life is sad rather than satisfying. That dubious accomplishment indicates that your goal was too small, yet you neglected to replace it with challenges grand enough to reach beyond your earlier successes. A goal should be like the horizon, envisioned in the distance, urging you onward, yet never becoming a settled destination.

In my earlier years, Kenny, a dear friend and encourager in my life and ministry, often challenged me, “Allen, it is better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a mountain, than to aim for a telephone pole and hit the top of a fence post.” His life-long conviction of that truth empowered him to believe God for blessing according to his efforts and beyond his abilities. Goals should be worthy of your supreme commitment, diligent effort, singular focus, and beyond what you can achieve without God and others. Godly goals encourage and empower you to accomplish more than you otherwise could.

Paul was neither impressed by his successes nor intimidated by failures. He learned from his past, but refused to live there. His singular goal was always before him. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life . . The one thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So, I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” Philippians 3:10-14 TEV. A God-sized goal is not achievable apart from God.

Today, I pray for you to dream big, plan well, and work hard to achieve your potential.

Christian Communications 2017

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What’s in a Name?

December 30th, 2015

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NKJV.

Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “what’s in a name?”

A secure sense of identity is important. Names have significance. My first name distinguishes me from others in my family. My middle name honors my Dad. My last name identifies me with generations that preceded me and will follow me. Your name identifies you, connects you to your history, and differentiates you from others. I have friends who have legally changed their names to honor their cultural heritage or to better reflect their new life in Christ. In Scripture, God considers names important. When God chose to send His Son into our world, His name was not left to whim or chance, but deliberately chosen by God.

To Nazareth, an angel was sent to the young virgin, Mary, as well as Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus . . for He shall save His people from their sins.” Read Luke 1:26-35/Matthew 1:20-21 NKJV. Jesus’ name, “Jehovah Saves,” perfectly describes His purpose on earth. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” Acts 10:43 NIV. All who call upon the name of Jesus find forgiveness and release from the power of their sins. Jesus came with singular purpose: to do the will of His Father, to reveal the heart of God, to declare the power of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to bring redemption from sin. “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Read Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV.

Gratitude and pleasant memories accompany names of family and friends dear to me. Yet there is no name more loved and gratefully recalled than the name of Jesus. What’s in a name? Everything, when it is His name. Be clear about this; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. See Acts 2:21 NKJV. “What this means is 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! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT.

I know of no greater declaration and assurance than the unchanging nature of Jesus and His power to save. Romans 5:1-2. There is a wonderful promise of redemption and renewal in Christ, “To him who overcomes I will give him a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NKJV. Awaiting you is a name that only God knows, that will perfectly describe who you have become because of His abundant grace. Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal. “That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to hold the name of Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.

Christian Communications

Brass Stamp

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Prosperity in Adversity

August 14th, 2015

“The Lord made all that Joseph did to prosper in his hand.” Genesis 39:3 NKJV.

Adversity around you will not prevent God’s blessings upon you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prosperity in adversity.”

It never seems a person has enough money, so it is important that you learn some basic things about handling the money you have. God’s principles remain true and effective whether you have little or much. My Dad taught me to, “always live within your means and always save something for later.”That is a Biblical principle of stewardship. That isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is always the best thing to do. See Proverbs 21:20 NIV.

Gayle and I have done that for all of our married life, when we made less and when we made more. We have chosen to live without credit card debt and been very careful about long-term debt. Before our marriage, my Dad recommended allocating a fixed percentage of income for housing expenses as a helpful guideline to keep expenses in proportion to income, not allowing expenses to grow without proportional income.

It’s simple really. The world’s economy cannot provide you with Kingdom prosperity. God’s blessings provide prosperity. Joseph found himself in adverse circumstances – sold as a slave, indentured as a servant, and in a foreign land. “His master saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.” Genesis 39:1-6 NKJV. Joseph prospered in extreme adversity. Adversity around you will not prevent God’s blessings upon you. God intends the same for you. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 NASB.

Governments assume that giving taxpayers’ money to large banking corporations and requiring them to lend money to assure sufficient funds circulating in the economy can solve the problem. Actually, that fuels the source of the problem. The common wisdom – ill formed and wrongly believed – is that if everybody will spend more, we can borrow and buy our way out of the predicament. That is a false cure, temporary and shortsighted. The wheels of commerce are greased by the principle of leverage through a cycle of borrowing and growing debt. Debt is addictive and destructive. It doesn’t work for a nation, nor for your household.

Our country is in economic distress through mounting debt, which merely reflects a financial mess many of us have made for ourselves. Readily available credit does not make it wise. Availability is not the same as affordability. Families have chosen a lifestyle of debt in a culture that encourages and enables your doing so. When tempted to spend beyond your means, consider the financial, marital, and eventual emotional cost.

God will not bless your mess. Begin putting God first. Malachi 3:8-12 NLT. Everything you have belongs to God; you and I are stewards. Use wisely what God provides, always thankful for His blessings. “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128:1-2 NIV.

Today, I pray that you earn diligently, save regularly, spend wisely, and give generously.

Christian Communications 02139

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Courage and Confidence

April 29th, 2015

“Stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.“ 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV.

Face your fear or your present fear will control your future.

My thoughts and comments today are about “courage and confidence.”

Years earlier, there had been a difficult and disappointing church situation, and I was not sure what the outcome might be in many people’s lives, people that I pastored and for which I was responsible. Feeling embattled, I envisioned a favorite Bible story of personal courage, the battlefield scene between David and Goliath. See 1 Samuel 17:1-25.

As I read Samuel’s description of the occasion, “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.” (1 Sam 17:48 NLT), I could “see” David with only a simple, shepherd’s sling, yet running with abandon directly toward the towering, armor-clad warrior that all others feared. In my heart, I knew the Lord was speaking directly to me about courage and confidence. My situation seemed to require more courage and confidence than I was experiencing.

David story captures one’s imagination – young David against Goliath, a seasoned warrior. Because of its larger than life storybook ending, the phrase “David against Goliath” has even become a part of secular speech. Though an actual event, it also provides a powerful metaphor of times and situations that you will face, where the odds of success are clearly unfavorable and the ultimate outcome questionable to everyone, except you and God.

God seems to love those kinds of real life stories. Moses against powerful Pharaoh. Joseph betrayed by his brothers. Three Hebrew captives righteously defying a Persian King and his fiery furnace. Daniel facing ravenous lions. Elijah facing down the 450 prophets of Baal. Paul staring at a treacherous storm at sea and declaring, “Fear not, be of good cheer.” Read Hebrews 11.

In just such times, you must first face the fear to move forward with courage, to do what needs to be done without hesitation, to do what others will not do and doubt that you can. At such times, your faith has to overpower every fear and uncertainty. Read 1 Samuel 17:8-11. The natural inclination is to run the opposite direction, away from the confrontation and danger. But if you do, your fear will chase and haunt you forever. Face your fear or your present fear will control your future.

Without hesitation, “David quickly ran out to meet [Goliath].” The sight of this diminutive shepherd boy coming his way did not frighten Goliath, but he must have been momentarily startled to see the preposterous sight, startled just long enough for David to seal Goliath’s fate forever. As he was known to do on other occasions, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV. I suggest two practical things that strengthened David’s courage.

(1) David had experience with God. “The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine.” Read 1 Samuel 17:32-37. If God has not failed you before, your God will not fail you now. If God has always provided your needs before, He will still provide for you. His Word promises you, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11. Look past the size of your fear; remember the size of your God.

(2) David had courage for God’s honor and others’ well-being. “Who is this pagan Philistine that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . the God of the armies of Israel that you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:26 and 45 NLT. The situation I faced was not of a scale such as David’s, but I found courage for similar reasons. I had God’s honor to uphold, and people who depended on me to lead with courage and confidence. Courage is not about your safety. True courage is rallied for God’s honor and others’ well-being. “Stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.“ 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV. Being encouraged is volitional more than emotional.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will show courage when time and circumstance require.

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Up to Nothing But Good

January 14th, 2015

“Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.” Acts 8:4 NKJV.

God’s plans are bigger than where you’ve been and better than what you’ve done.

My thoughts and comments today are about being up to nothing but good.”

Sometimes God has to allow unfavorable circumstances that dislodge you from your comfort zone in order for you to accomplish more than you would have, had you remained where you were and as you were. You will be flooded with a myriad of questions. “Why this? Why me? Why now?” That is rarely a comfortable process. “Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.” Acts 8:4 NKJV.

Scattered! That description tells you their relocation was involuntary, forced by circumstances beyond their control and contrary to their wishes. Persecution had come to the Christians in Jerusalem. They seem to have forgotten Jesus’ parting words to them. “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NKJV. God’s plans are bigger than where you’ve been and better than what you’ve done.

Maybe they had grown comfortable in doing what they were doing and being where they were. They failed to extend their boundaries, not fully accomplishing God’s intent for His Kingdom until God permitted situations that stretched them beyond their customary and convenient routines and in the direction of His purposes. God will have something higher and better in the uncomfortable things He allows into a person’s life. God is neither protective of your comfort nor worried about your discomfort. He is committed to your usefulness In His Kingdom and your personal fulfillment.

In this instance, the uncomfortable experience for those Christians was persecution. They fled Jerusalem for their own and their families’ safety, and in doing so they embraced God’s higher purposes – everywhere they went, they were preaching about Jesus. It is better to fully embrace what God wills than to need natural events to spur you to do so.

Until my discomfort at remaining as I am becomes greater than my discomfort at becoming what I could be, I will remain content to stay where I’ve been, doing what I’ve done. That provides neither growth nor progress. God has a privileged assignment for your life that only you can do for His glory. Your Father loves you too much to allow you to shortchange yourself by reluctance or resistance.

What do you do when things get uncomfortable? Whine and complain? Hold on to the status quo? Blame God for not removing your difficulties? Joseph saw God’s hands in things much more than uncomfortable. To his brothers, Joseph “What you intended for harm, God intended for good . . to accomplish what now is . . the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 NIV. You can trust God’s loving hand upon your life, and believe that nothing God allows will ever be for your harm or loss. God is always up to nothing but good. Read Jeremiah 29:11 NLT.

Sometimes the closed door is the Lord’s protection, and sometimes the open door you avoid may be the Lord’s provision. The answer is to be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14 NLT), confident in His Word (Matthew 4:4 NIV), and familiar with His voice (John 10:2-5). I love that when the Jerusalem Christians were scattered, ”they went everywhere preaching the Word.” Every circumstance can become your opportunity to share the Good News.

Today, my prayer for you is to see the eternal purposes of God behind the momentary problems.

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