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Posts Tagged ‘Luke 2:52’

Moderation and Balance

December 31st, 2012

As you grow spiritually, you should increasingly reflect the loveliness of Jesus.

“Don’t . . lose your balance.” 2 Peter 3:17 CEV.

Moderation can be a virtue if the concept is rightly understood. “Let your moderation be known to all men.” Philippians 4:5 KJV. Often, people are more readily given to extremes rather than moderation. And then, the usual adjustments are from one measure of an extreme to another.

When Jesus knelt to wash the disciples’ feet, Peter protested and refused Jesus’ doing so. Read John 13:5-10 NKJV. Then when Jesus corrected him, Peter swung to the other extreme, “Not just my feet but my hands and head as well.” Vs. 9 NIV. Jesus’ response was an example of practical moderation, “Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.’” Vs. 10 NIV. It is a simple lesson for life; too much of even a good thing can be unprofitable.

When overweight, a person typically makes a radical change to their menu, rather than a healthy adjustment to their lifestyle. A dieter goes to an extreme that is often unhealthy and therefore ineffective long term. Overnight, some people shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an exercise regimen that is unsustainable. Balance is necessary in every area of life, making essential adjustments progressively until a healthy, Godly equilibrium is established.

Peter, the former extremist, advocates the proper place for balance in the Christian’s lifestyle: “Don’t let . .  people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.  Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever!” 2 Peter 3:17-18 CEV. The same concept is expressed in a different translation; “Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet.” 2 Peter 3:17 The Message. Don’t allow people or circumstances to make you lose your balance.

I aspire for balance in my spiritual and everyday life – balancing marriage and ministry priorities, balancing personal reflection and meaningful conversation, or balancing spiritual disciplines and social engagement. That is not always as simple as you might first suppose. It is easy to assume that balance involves equal parts of different things. That is neither realistic nor a proper understanding. Balance cannot remain static; balance – like your spiritual life and personal relationships – must be dynamic, always adjusting, always current. The concept of spiritual balance is best illustrated by a recipe consisting of: the correct proportions of the right ingredients, blended together at the right time for the intended result.

I have long enjoyed a poem by Rudyard Kipling that expresses the balance a life is meant to enjoy. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!” (If, 1895). Keep your balance in all the experiences of life – the gain, the loss; the pleasure, the pain; the good, the bad.

As in everything, Jesus is your model for a truly balanced life. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 NIV. Jesus’ natural maturing encompassed His development mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. As you grow spiritually, you should increasingly reflect the loveliness of Jesus. Paul writes of the ultimate goal of your coming to, ”the knowledge of the Son of God, to a [maturing] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that Jesus is always your example and highest goal.

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Coincidence or Providence?

October 14th, 2011

“Let me . . glean . . after him in whose sight I may find favor.” Ruth 2:2 NKJV

“Occurrences of divine providence benevolently intersect your path every day.”

My thoughts today ask, “coincidence or providence?”

Everyone has unexpected and unexplainable occurrences so obviously out of the ordinary course of events that they are noticeable as peculiar. Such a moment might make you say, “Hmm! How did that happen?” Your response is the recognition of a coincidence, “a concurrence of events with no apparent connection.” It’s stunning when one of such moments arise. Most people explain that as luck. The question for me is this: are there really such things as mere coincidences? Is life just chance occurrences?

Good things that happen without apparent source can only be explained as random coincidence or divine providence? I choose to believe the latter! I have heard many people describe my life-long friend, Kenny, as being “born under a lucky star.” For some it was the only way to explain the good fortune and unique success his life has enjoyed. That would discount his indiscouragable optimism, joyful personality, bold faith, and passion for God. He isn’t lucky; Kenny is blessed with God’s favor! Luck, if there is such a thing, is random; blessing, and there is such a thing, is purposeful.

I find this to be true: the more a person loves and serves God with joyful obedience, the more “random coincidences” seem to occur in their life. “He who earnestly seeks good finds favor.” Proverbs 11:27 NKJV. In my life and ministry, more than once I “just happened” to be where an invaluable opportunity presented itself; I “just happened” to have met the person who could best help me do what God was asking; I “just happened” to know someone who knew someone that I needed to know. Such occurrences of divine providence, small and large, benevolently intersect your path every day. Look closely, you will see God’s fingerprints.

The book of Ruth is a wonderful, historical account of God’s hand upon a young woman, Ruth, who had experienced a series of difficult circumstances – widowed while young and childless, moving from her childhood home in Moab to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, and poverty. In a rural, agricultural society to be without land meant to be without a means for daily provision. She and Naomi were dependent upon the benevolence of others. “Let me go to the field and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” Read Ruth 1:22-2:11 NKJV. Ruth didn’t ignore realities; she wisely chose to rely on God’s favor. Ruth trusted God to direct her steps, finding unexpected provision and unanticipated posterity into the lineage of David and therefore into the bloodline of the Savior – all by God’s favor. Enjoy the rest of her story. Read Ruth 4:9-22 NKJV.

Favor opens doors you could not access. Favor provides opportunity you did not earn. Favor grants success beyond your skills. Others’ kindness to you is God’s benevolent favor toward you. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor (chosen) rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NKJV. Let Jesus be your model; “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 NIV. The good that comes your way is providence, not coincidence.

My prayer for you today is that you experience greater reward and satisfaction than effort alone provides.

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Favor with God and Man

May 5th, 2011

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 NIV.

“Favor is an unexplained disposition and unexpected investment in your well-being by others.”

My thoughts today are about “favor with God and man.”

Everyday life is a lot easier when you live in such a way that you enjoy “favor with God and man.” Luke 2:32 NIV. Favor is an unexplained disposition and unexpected investment in your well-being by God or others. I have a friend, Kenny (more like family than friend to me), who is often described by others as having been “born under a lucky star.” He has been diligent, worked hard, and succeeded beyond his peers. Now, he and I both know that luck and stars have nothing to do with his success and reward. He serves God passionately and tirelessly and God blesses him, and he lives and treats others in such a way that people who hardly know him like him immediately and wish him every happiness and success. Kenny is a man that enjoys favor with God and man.

People would like to think that favor prevents and protects from things that are  challenging and difficult, but that would not be true. My friend has had plenty of such times, but they have never changed the faith and optimism with which he lives, and by which he cheers and encourages others. Favor is God’s unchanged disposition toward you that adds blessing to your life and turns every obstacle into a greater achievement.

God also can give you favor with people, both friends and even enemies. When Israel was in captivity in Egypt, God promised Israel two things: favor with their enemies (Proverbs 16:7), and ample provision for their journey and new life. (Philippians 4:19). “I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and it shall be when you go, you shall not go empty-handed.” Exodus 3:21 NKJV. God’s favor made the Egyptians give their “silver, gold, and clothing” extravagantly to the same Hebrews they had been impoverishing.

From Jesus’ earliest years, the Bible describes Him this way, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV. Before you discount the relevance of that because it was written about God’s Son, consider these words of Solomon: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4 NIV. That is written for you! Favor is as much a part of your healthy, well-rounded development as it was of Jesus – mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.

Favor can do what your best skills and efforts may not – opening doors otherwise closed to you, removing obstacles impeding your progress, introducing unanticipated opportunities, and inviting you into select circles and relationships. Favor is networking in the best possible way! Pray for favor; walk before God in integrity and obedience; extend favor to others; anticipate favor from others. Here is God’s Word for you everyday, “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation!” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV. Also read 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you enjoy the special grace and favor of Jesus Christ.

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Learning and Growing

September 10th, 2010

“Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40 NIV

Choose well and wisely those to whom you give your ear and entrust your heart.”

My thoughts today are about “learning and growing.”

Growth is life-long, because learning is a life-long process. It was said of Jesus that He “grew in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 NIV. Jesus models well-rounded development: mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

The question is not whether you are growing, but whether you are learning. The Bible makes it clear that growth is not optional; it is expected, even mandatory. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18 NIV. The secret to sound and well-balanced growth should then be the attitude that you haven’t yet “arrived.” When you stop learning, you stop growing. There’s more to learn from others, just as there is more that others can learn from you.

Jesus said, “Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40 NIV. Choose wisely those to whom you give your ear and entrust your heart. I want my teachers to be those who are more and more like Jesus, because I want to learn each day to be more like them so I am becoming more and more like Him.

You not only need to have teachers, but it can be sobering to realize that you also need to be a teacher, a good and Godly example for others to follow. Others within your circle of influence will inevitably grow to be a little more like your example. Paul could confidently write, “Imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 Today’s English Version. Can you be so bold in your spiritual experience and example before others? But be advised, the Bible says, “You know that we who teach will be judged by a higher standard . . thus we assume the greater accountability.” James 3:1 Amplified.

Somewhere I read this quote, “If you want to strengthen your teaching, do everything in your power to strengthen the teacher – yourself!” To lead and teach others, you must learn to be taught and never stop learning. And if you want to touch others, you must ask God to first touch you.

My prayer for you today is that you will always keep learning and growing like Jesus.

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