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Posts Tagged ‘life of faith’

Godly Generations

May 12th, 2017

The Godly impact of a life touches generations and reaches eternity

 “Telling the generation to come the praises of the Lord.” Psalm 78:4 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Godly Generations.”

Few track and field events are any more exciting than the relay race. Four athletes give their all for their assigned portion of the race, and then pass the baton to the next runner. If the baton is not handed off properly within the allowed space, or is dropped, that team is disqualified. Each runner gives their best effort until coming to where the next runner anxiously awaits. For a few brief steps, they run alongside each other until the baton is safely transferred and then a runner moves aside while the other must continue. One’s portion of the race is completed; another’s is begun.

Your life of faith is like that. We each have our assigned portion of race to run, cheered on by those before us, and responsible to those awaiting us. Read 2 Timothy 1:3-6 NIV. The Apostle Paul often used the metaphor of a runner. “If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 NIV. Read 2 Tim 4:7-8 NIV.

And parenting is like that also. This weekend holds a special day when more phone calls are made, more flowers sold, more restaurants crowded, and more greeting cards purchased than any other day of the year – Mother’s Day. My thoughts today are shaped by family events in past months. Our family welcomed two Great Granddaughters, Caroline Renee and Riley Madison. That struggle of birth and the gift of life are fresh in my mind as I write. I marvel as I watched our granddaughters with their helplessly dependent infants. They have counted their joyful sacrifice of self in the time and care given as privilege, not sacrifice.

The Bible commands, “Telling the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done . . That the generation to come might know them. Read Psalm 78:1-7 NLT. A mother’s influence is immense, far greater than she may presume during the busy years of mothering. A mother’s life is not lived for herself, but with a vision for the lives of the children and families who will follow her. She does not count herself to have succeeded until her children and their children’s children have prospered. And a mother’s influence is not limited to her lifetime. Moms are always with you even after they are gone. And Moms will always be in the hearts of their family.

My Mom is no longer with us, but she is forever in my heart. When she lived, I wanted to be with her; now, I wish I were more like her. Before, I enjoyed her company; now, I remember her character. Before, I enjoyed our conversations; now, I value the clarity of her words and wisdom. Before I admired the faith and values she taught me; now, I treasure the convictions she held steadfastly.

For a season, God gives Moms and Dads to us to impart values, example, life experience, character, convictions, priorities, hopes, and faith. Moms know others must run further than she could, while yearning for us to do so with less pain and more pleasure than her own, and with fewer struggles and more victories. Godly generations, behind as well as ahead of you, depend on your doing so.

Unless you understand that your brief life is a timeless connection of influence with those generations both before and after you, you may fail to live your life with a similar, Godly influence that is consequential and eternal. Man or woman, young or old, be God’s love wrapped in a human heart, so the Godly impact of your life will stretch well beyond your lifetime, even beyond the lifetimes of those whose lives you touch, “That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” Psalm 78:7 NKJV. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to prize a Godly heritage and provide the same to those who follow.

Christian Communications 2017

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Fully Alive

June 25th, 2012

“Only by dying could Jesus break . . the power of death.” Hebrews 2:14 NLT

Death releases the fuller expression and greater extension of the life of faith.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “fully alive.”

What could be a more challenging and sensitive subject than death? As a person and pastor, I have said farewell to too many family and friends to treat it casually. Yet death, as well as life, is unavoidable in the circle of life. I suggest that you cannot understand either without a proper, Biblical conviction about the other. We savor life and wish to enjoy its longest extent, uncomfortable to think about death. Paul described death as, “the last enemy to be destroyed.” 1 Corinthians 15:26 NIV. Sin imposed death upon all creation.

“Only by dying could Jesus break the power of the Devil who had the power of death. Only in this way, could He deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT. None of us want to be described, as, “slaves to the fear of dying,” but death does foster a cruel slavery, if one’s heart is not held firm in a personal faith in God. Fear is a miserable way to waste precious life, worried about a time and event in the future and failing to live fully and freely now.

We prize and honor those individuals whose nobility of sacrifice would give, or have given, their very lives for the good of family, church, community, and country. They are honored as martyrs and patriots. The Bible honors the faith of such courageous souls whose lives echo the Apostle Paul’s testimony, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy . .” Acts 20:24 NKJV. Some things are more precious than temporal life.

I have learned two things about life and death. You will not live with joyful abandon if you do not face the reality of death which is inevitable, and you are not prepared to die if you have not learned to live fearlessly. (1) Being rightly prepared to die allows you to be heroically alive. No one is eager for the end of life, but neither need you live in terror of that day. Heaven honors those who “did not love and cling to life even when faced with death.” Revelation 12:11 Amplified. Their faith was more precious than even the life they loved.

(2) Knowing how to be joyously alive is the surest preparation for facing death victoriously. Jesus gave the context for real life when He said, “If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [conform wholly to My example in living] . . whoever loses his life for My sake, he will preserve and save it.” Luke 9:23-24 AMP. How you live has everything to do with how you die. Read Hebrews 6:17-20 NLT. Life is not found in living for yourself; life is found in giving it away for Christ and others, fully savoring each moment now.

For the Christ-follower, death releases the fuller expression and greater extension for the life of faith. That truth you can only grasp by faith. In comparison, life as you know and love it now is a mere shadow of the reality of eternal life that awaits those whose faith rests solidly upon Christ. As sure a promise as Jesus ever gave is this, “In My Father’s House . . I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3 NKJV. Those who live with trust in God’s character and care receive a great promise. “The Lord says, ‘I will protect those who trust in My Name . . I will satisfy them with a long life.’” Psalm 91:14/16. How well you live may even impact how long you live, and will certainly determine where you spend eternity.

My prayer for you today is to live every moment for Jesus, fearless and fully alive.

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Clarity

June 4th, 2012

“Then we will see everything with perfect clarity.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

The promise of good is incomplete without the process of being conformed.

My thoughts and comments today are about “clarity.”

What I have observed about myself and others is this: we cannot know everything we need to know, and often don’t understand everything we think we know. That is especially true when it comes to matters involving God’s will and His actions (or presumed inaction) in everyday life. Are you perplexed about something God has done, or more particularly a time when God hasn’t done what you wanted or believed He would? Sometimes in one’s life of faith, there seem to be more questions than answers.

Understanding can become a bit clouded, less clear than may feel comfortable to you. I have friends who live with serious health issues, and have for too long of a time. They are good people; they have served God faithfully, often carrying the burden of others’ needs. Maybe your present situation is like theirs in one way or another – a marriage that doesn’t heal, a prodigal who doesn’t return, financial crises that aren’t resolved. How does your heart and mind personally reconcile God’s righteous character and gracious care with the apparent absence of relief to dear people who trust God – loving and serving Him – even in the face of their own dire needs? My friend, Dennis, wisely observed that our present experience is safely” bound within God’s sovereignty, not our own choice or devil’s device.” Our time continuum is so small, eternity so vast.

Faith must occasionally wrestle with an apparent gap between God’s wisdom in a particular circumstance and His will and character as expressed in the Bible. In spite of what may first appear, there is no inconsistency. The Apostle Paul experienced such times and found satisfaction in God’s answer, “My grace is sufficient for you.” See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV. There is a day when God gives clarity, but that day is not necessarily this day. This verse describes both psychic pain and spiritual promise, “Now we see things imperfectly . .  but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 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. Just as God knows! What a day that will be.

Here is the problem as I see it. The Bible says our knowledge and understanding are “imperfect, partial and incomplete.” There are times and situations when the miniscule portion of reality you see is not the full reality, until you are able to understand more clearly all that God is doing in this moment and how your small puzzle piece complements the over-arching purposes and providence of God. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God . . who are called  according to His purpose . . to become conformed to the image of His Son.Romans 8:28-29 NAS. The promise of good is incomplete without the process of being conformed. Romans 12:1-2 NIV.

The Bible’s good news is this. “Then you will see everything with perfect clarity . . then you will know everything completely, just as God knows you now.” Supposed ambiguity can yield to profound clarity about the will of God, when balanced with the eternal wisdom with which He lovingly and sovereignly directs the affairs of your life as well as His church and world. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge God and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV. Life requires trust; trust yields spiritual clarity.

My prayer for you today is that you will be clear about Who God is and what He does.

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Marathon Runners

February 22nd, 2012

“Let us run . . the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

“The life of faith demands the effort and endurance of a marathon, not the enthusiasm of a sprint.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “marathon runners.”

Amy, our daughter-in-law, mother of four and avid runner the last several years, decided she wanted to run a marathon. She has now successfully concluded two marathons in San Antonio and Houston in recent months; that’s 26.2 miles of sheer determination, endurance, and mind-numbing physical and emotional anguish. I cannot imagine the regimen of training, mental strength, and physical stamina that requires. It is safe to say that not just anyone is able to accomplish such a physical achievement.

Like other serious runners, she must have grown weary with the discipline of training. She experienced soreness, strains, and exhaustion during relentless hours of training. She sacrificed precious hours she could have used in a busy family, and expenses for proper clothing and equipment. There were some things she gave up in order to achieve a greater goal.

Along the 26.2 miles every runner stares down the possibility of failure, times of struggling with their own limits as faster runners pass with more strength and experience, moments when others quit along the way raising doubts of their own ability to finish, and a weariness to the core of one’s being – until seeing the finish line requiring just a few more steps and last ounces of strength. A runner’s success does not come easily nor without sacrifice; real success in any demanding effort never does! Your best effort must endure until you cross the finish line.

Finishing the race requires stringent training, settled determination, physical stamina, mental toughness, demanding perseverance, and a superseding goal that inspires and empowers your best effort. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, “I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 TEV.

I would suggest that every follower of Jesus is in a marathon of even greater importance, one of eternal consequence. The life of faith demands the effort and endurance of a marathon, not the brief enthusiasm of a sprint. Dare we expect minimal demands or marginal sacrifices to be sufficient? There are mile markers along the way, but the journey is measured in days, months, and years rather than miles. Anything short of the finish line is too soon.

Following the most amazing histories of faith and perseverance (Hebrews 11), the writer speaks to us, “Therefore, since (you) are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, strip off every weight that slows (you) down, especially the sin that so easily hinders(your) progress. And run with endurance the race that God has set before (you) . . do this by keeping (Your) eyes on Jesus, on Whom (your) faith depends from start to finish . . so that you don’t become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT.

My helpful reminder is this: “Remember in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win . . They do it to win a prize that will fade away; we do it for an eternal prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT. See Acts 14:22 NKJV. Run to win; the finish line is in sight. May you be as confident as Paul as he faced his impending death, “I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you never lose heart or hope short of hearing God say, “Well done!”

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