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Posts Tagged ‘journey’

Upward and Onward

December 16th, 2016

Your direction is governed by your spiritual passion

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Luke 12:34 NIV

My thoughts and comments today urge you upward and onward.”

In life, you will make numerous directional decisions. Those decisions touch your future in ways you will not foresee. In such moments, it is important that you consider your choices carefully. Seek counsel with others who know you, as well as have your confidence in their consistency of knowing God, His Word, and His ways. And of primary importance, always seek God’s wisdom for all that you and they cannot know. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all.” James 1:5 TEV. God and His Word have all the wisdom and knowledge life will require.

Some people come to such moments of decision and become stuck. Due to indecision about what to do or which way to go, some go nowhere. Indecision is always a wrong decision. In such a situation, and with an entire nation relying on his leadership, Joshua received God’s counsel and it remains good counsel for you. “Do not turn from [God’s Word] to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth . . so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful . . for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 NIV. 

Life is not ultimately determined by which path you follow, as much as it is that you are careful to know and do what God says along your journey. Then the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Better to be on any path with God than a right path without Him. More frequently, the challenge you will face is whether to go on or turn back – whether to move forward in faith or retreat to surroundings more safe and familiar.

Experiencing the disappointment of a companion who turned back, he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world more.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. Read John’s advice, 1 John 2:15-17 NKJV. Since your new life is in Christ, the world is behind you; keep it there. Keep moving upward and onward as God wills. Jesus was clear about following Him, “No one after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 NAS.

It’s simple logic. You won’t make much progress if you are always looking over your shoulder fondly for where you’ve been. The Bible praises those who left behind everything to follow God, “If their attention had been filled with thoughts of where they had been, they would have found a way to go back there. But they were looking for a better place . .” Hebrews 11:15-16 (my paraphrase). I love the effect and reward of such a person’s passion for God, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a [heavenly place] for them.”

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NIV. Your direction is governed by your spiritual passion. “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You.” Psalm 63:8 AMP.

Today, I pray for you is to never settle for less than God’s highest and best.

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Fellow Travelers

May 1st, 2015

“A [person] that has friends must themselves be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

Life is best in the company of family and friends.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fellow travelers.”

Life is a journey; don’t travel alone. In your journey, joy and satisfaction are found in the company of fellow travelers. Life is most satisfying when lived in the strengthening context of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are meant to be learned among family and friends. Those relationships are meant to complement each other, never compete or conflict. For a richness of life, you will need both family and friends. Life will still be life with good times and bad; that’s exactly why meaningful relationships are important.

Solomon wisely observed, “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Proverbs 17:17 MSG. Family and friends will share both your joys and difficulties. In the company of others, each enjoyment is multiplied and every difficulty is divided. “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Live in harmony with each other . . enjoy the company of ordinary people.” Romans 12:15-16 NLT.

In the Garden of Eden at the origin of life, God established a principle. Having filled the heavens with birds, the seas with fish, and the fields with animals of all kinds, God created man. Then God asserted, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18. But that principle extends beyond the marital relationship. Its truth speaks to the aloneness in which people are otherwise tempted to live. You are never your best without the company and contribution of the right people.

Life is best in the company of fellow travelers. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17. That is true when family and friendships function in love, evidenced through mutual care and service, and compatible with Godly values. Family and friends are meant to be complementary, contributing and completing what God anticipates for your life.

Choose friends that strengthen your desire and resolve for what’s right and best. Choose friends faithful for a lifetime, not just the moment. Jesus told about a father and his wayward son. See Luke 15:11-24. The younger son’s heart turned away from his father and home, when he sought the company of the wrong friends. The Bible warns, “Don’t be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33. You will become like those with whom you admire or associate.

Reviewing my life, I have enjoyed the graces of God and graciousness of others – born with a Christian heritage of Godly parents and grandparents, blessed with a Godly, loving wife and family, and blessed with uplifting companions God placed alongside. In such company, I find sufficient strength and manifold joys. I am a better man, husband, father, friend, and follower of Jesus because of those willing to share their journey.

While reading this, I trust you are considering, “How can I have friends like that?” I suggest you consider, “How can I be a friend like that?” In gratitude, I purpose to contribute into others’ lives as God, family, and friends have generously contributed to mine. Friendship is your response to seeing God present in another’s life and adding your applause to the process. It’s simple really, “A [person] that has friends must themselves be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24.

Today, I pray for you that your journey is joined by those who inspire you to be your best.

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Wells of Refreshing

October 23rd, 2014

 

“Wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:20 NLT.

Satisfaction of soul will never be found apart from Jesus.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wells of refreshing.”

My friend, Campbell, said to me many years ago, “Abraham’s journey is marked by milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.”  That has been a guiding understanding for me. Abraham’s journey began with a severe obedience that extended across his lifetime. See Genesis 22:1-19. Such uncommon obedience provides a path to a Godly, selfless life of consecration. A life without sacrifice is a life without fulfillment or reward. Everywhere on his journey, Abraham pitched a tent, built an altar, and dug a well. To Campbell’s description, I would add another aspect, “wells of refreshing.”

What comes to mind when you consider the word, “refreshing” – maybe clear direction, or renewed hope, or fresh start, or greater peace, or new joy? When something is lacking, you need refreshing. Usually, a person feels their need but doesn’t know their own answer, but God does. The process begins with your relationship with God. “Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.

Abraham became a man of great wealth, evidenced by his herds and flocks as well as the large company of servants and herdsmen to care for all he possessed. The land necessitated the digging of wells wherever they settled, however briefly. See Genesis 12:16/13:2-6. Wells are a necessary source of refreshing. When your spiritual life is lacking enjoyment and your burdens grow heavy, you need to know how to dig, “wells of refreshing.”

Little mention is made of Abraham’s wells, until after his death. “The Philistines had stopped up all the wells of Abraham . . Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father.” Read Genesis 26:15/18-21 NKJV. Abraham dug wells for His own and others’ refreshing, and for the generation to come. Protect the sources from which God provides refreshing – God’s Word, prayer, worship, obedience, fellowship, and serving. Leave a Godly legacy and spiritual inheritance for those who will follow.

The enemy of your soul desires to destroy all that spiritually refreshes and re-energizes you. Repeatedly, the Philistines contested the wells where Isaac and those with him sought refreshing, but Isaac would not be dissuaded. See Genesis 26:22-25. Jesus offers, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.” John 7:37-39 NIV. The promise remains true, “Wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:20 NLT.

You might feel spiritually drained, even physically and emotionally exhausted. You may be experiencing a dry time in barren places, where progress seems slow and nothing comes easily. Years earlier, someone assured me, “God will not let you walk through a desert season without first teaching you how to dig a well – if you have been paying attention.” Satisfaction of soul will never be found apart from Jesus. To a woman drawing water at a well, Jesus offered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-14 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is to be refreshed in your body, soul, and spirit – with joy and satisfaction.

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Milestones of Obedience

October 16th, 2014

By faith Abraham obeyed . . . [and] went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT.

Life is a sequence of events and a succession of experiences.

My thoughts and comments today are about “milestones of obedience.”

Life is a journey, comprising a sequence of years, a succession of events, and a collection of experiences. The last – a collection of experiences – may well be the more important of the three. Experiences create the moments where treasured memories are made. Time can be counted in minutes, but life is measured in moments. If you think about it, you will easily recognize the distinction between minutes and moments.

Minutes are too many to all be remembered. Moments are fewer yet forever mark the journey and progress of your life. I don’t remember the day of the week nor the exact time of day when Gayle said yes to my expression of love and proposal of marriage. But more than fifty years later, I fondly recall that moment and the joy I felt when she did.

Many years ago, my friend and spiritual father, Campbell, said a few words which remain of primary importance to me yet today. He said, “Abraham’s journey was marked by milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.” Campbell’s words were a life-shaping moment of spiritual understanding that continues to impact what I believe and how I choose to live my life – “milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.”

Obedience to God is essential and non-negotiable in your faith journey. There are no more consequential moments than when you walk in obedience. Like King Saul, you may try to offer God your preferred options rather than full obedience. Saul did not offer a lesser sacrifice; he tried to offer a different sacrifice from what God asked. “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.” Read 1 Samuel 15:13-15/22 NIV. Any option other than what God requires is unacceptable.

Milestones indicate much more than the irreplaceable time that has passed; spiritual milestones mark the progress and success of your journey, or the lack thereof. They are enduring reminders of the grace of God in your past and the sovereign purpose of God over your future. Such moments are sacred and should be celebrated. Upon Israel’s victory over the Philistines, “Samuel took a stone . . and called it ‘Ebenezer’ saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12.

Abraham’s journey began with a divine encounter, as will yours, and his response of obedience. “The Lord had said to Abraham, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” Genesis 12:1 NIV. Imagine the obedience and faith that was required in that. His journey would take him from his “country,” everything previously familiar to him – his “people,” everyone with whom he felt most comfortable – and “his father’s household,” the source of provision he had trusted.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT. Obedience requires trust beyond explanation. Abraham did not know where he was going but he knew Who He was following. To follow God obediently, you have to leave where you are to go where God wants to take you. Your spiritual journey cannot take you further than your current obedience will allow.

Consecration to God is essential and non-negotiable in your faith journey. In the next edition of EveryDay Life, we will further examine the very important, second aspect, “Altars of Consecration.” Every moment of consecration at an altar is of eternal consequence in your journey. Every place Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar and worshipped the Lord there. See Genesis 12:7/8/13:18/22:9. An altar is where you humbly bow and surrender yourself to the supremacy and sovereignty of God, a sacred place of worship expressed in costly sacrifice and sincere consecration. Altars are significant to God and crucial to your spiritual journey.

Today, my prayer for you is for you to grow in the grace of obedience and the practice of consecration.

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Reflections on a Birthday

July 18th, 2014

“The Gospel . . is power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16 NIV.

You are not born into your family’s faith; you are born into the Kingdom of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “reflections on a birthday.”

Birthdays mark the journey of one’s life and are due cause for proper celebration. Today is my birthday. As many as I have had, I should be good at them by this time. I have much to celebrate in my journey – a strong beginning in a home and family that I would hope for every child, Godly parents and grandparents who loved and taught me good habits and God’s ways; a happy childhood, a healthy adolescence, a helpful education with life-long friends and wonderful memories, an incredible, creative, and loving wife and life-partner, better kids than my parenting skills ever warranted; grandkids and now great grandkids beyond anything I could have hoped. All this is wrapped in a lifetime of serving people who modeled the Gospel and lavishly opened their love and lives to us.

But let me tell you about another more important “birth-day” that really made the journey what it has been. The story originates where my new life truly began and from which it is still being written. When I was six years old, at a service with a children’s evangelist, Ray Ton, I responded to his invitation for salvation – to invite Jesus into my heart. As much as I could understand at the time, I sincerely committed my life to the Lord, and a new and eternal life began. In the simplicity and sincerity of a child’s heart, I experienced this truth, “The Gospel . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16 NIV.

When I was ten, on a Sunday night in my father’s church in North Venice, Illinois, a Sunday School teacher, Betty Rice, knelt at my side on the last row of that little church during an evangelist’s prayer, to invite me to the altar to pray. Imagine asking the pastor’s son! But boldly yet kindly she did, and at her invitation I knelt in the front left corner of that humble building to know Jesus in ways that I never had before. I learned that evening that you are not born into your family’s faith; you have to be individually and personally born into the Kingdom of God. “You must be born again.” See John 3:1-21 NIV. I cannot describe the inexpressible joy I experienced that night in the realization of one truth, “The Gospel . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

As a teen, fifteen years old in Granite City, Illinois, when an evangelist invited the church to the altars in the former City Theater that my Dad had consecrated as a revival center, I knelt at an altar where I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s call upon my life for the vocation of ministry. I saw a world in desperate need of a Savior; I felt God’s broken heart for people lost and powerless to find their way. The call was to share one message, “The Gospel . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” 

When I was seventeen, newly graduated from High School and accepted for architectural studies at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, God again spoke to my heart about ministry. I had other plans for my life; so did God. I chose His plans over my own, and the rest is history – fifty-one years of the greatest privilege I could ever have dreamed, still telling a simple story, “The Gospel . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” And still the journey continues . .

Today, my prayer is for you to believe and know the power of His salvation.

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