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Posts Tagged ‘needs’

Faults and Amazing Grace

August 23rd, 2017

Love sees what others do not care enough to look for.

 “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Romans 5:20

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faults and Amazing Grace.”

We all have faults aplenty, if anyone is looking for them. And it is not uncommon to recognize faults in others that we ignore in ourselves. The challenge of any relationship is choosing to keep in view the things that first caused love or friendship to be valued. As time passes, it is easy to notice more things that are other than were expected. Those are less numerous and probably smaller than what you might appreciate, but a wrong focus can soon cause another’s graces to seem overshadowed.That’s when you will be tempted to highlight another’s supposed shortcomings, much to their displeasure and the gradual diminishing of your relationship.

When a person seems oblivious to a beloved’s imperfections, it is explained that, “Love is blind.” I suggest that God’s love is not blind at all, but chooses to overlook what is contrary to love. How would you otherwise explain this verse? “Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 NIV.

This is the real question. How could God see your sinfulness, and yet love you? Do you ever think that strange? Exceptional? Our humanity waits until love has cause and justification to be offered, but is easily revoked when disappointed. God’s only justification was your need for His love and ample forgiveness. Paul marveled at God grace. “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” . . “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Romans 5:20/2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV.

Many years ago, Dottie Rambo wrote a touching song of testimony that declared, “He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” That kind of love, from God or man, has an relentless power to transform a human heart and rescue a ruined life. Mark reports Jesus’ encounter with a young man of wealth and authority, who sincerely asked how he might inherit eternal life. Painful moments after Jesus’ response, he would walk away sorrowfully. The price seemed too high for him to accept. “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Read Mark 10:17-22 NKJV.

Though more than fifty years ago, I vividly remember my Dad’s sermon about “the rich, young ruler.” As a young teen, his words painted an unforgettable picture in my heart of a young man walking away, shoulders slumped with sorrow, and his back turned to Jesus. My Dad’s description has influenced my lifetime, lest anything cause me to turn my back on Jesus’ offer of eternal life. No sacrifice is too great as an exchange for eternal life.

While writing Peter’s memory of the encounter, Mark observed, “And Jesus looked at him, and loved him.” Mark 10:21 NIV. Make no mistake. Others saw his wealth and position and would have received or rejected him on that basis. Jesus saw more. He saw a heart searching for real life, and loved him, before he chose and even after he chose unwisely. Do not make the mistake than young man made.

After explaining his notable, religious pedigree and his brutal, relentless persecution of the young church, Paul wrote, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,  for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” See Philippians 3:4-14 NKJV/Galatians 1:1-16 NIV. No wonder they call grace amazing!

Today, I pray for you to love others, believe the best of them, and show them grace.

Christian Communications 2017

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Your Clock and God’s Calendars

September 23rd, 2016

Our clocks do not often match God’s calendar.

edl-clocks-edit

“No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments are about your clock and God’s calendar.”

I think anyone who knows God fully believes this truth: “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly.” A loving and giving God would not choose to withhold what is good. The problem lies in determining what is good for you. God promises to provide what He deems good for His purposes in your life and at the time He knows will be best.

The most bountiful giving can never impoverish God. God is no poorer for however much He gives. With our limited resources, you and I might desire to give what another needs, yet lack the ability to do so, but that certainly is not true of God. God has desire, capacity, and ability to give. And His gifts will be, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” Luke 6:38 NIV.

Describing a child asking their father for good things, Jesus explained, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? . . If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Read Matthew 7:7-11 NIV. In Jesus examples, a son was asking what the father desired to give – good things.

There are times when life seems to trample on the truth. Painful realities intrude into daily life, and even worse, they linger longer than you feel you can bear. Most people can manage slight pain for a lengthy time, or even severe pain briefly, but who can bear the greatest of pain for the longest of time? Our clocks do not often match His calendar. Pain and delay challenge your belief until you cry out, “Where are the good gifts the father gives . . where is the good thing God will not withhold?”

The Apostle Paul wrestled with that kind of physical and emotional pain from an undescribed, “thorn in the flesh,” and physically languished in a Roman prison, while what would appear to any of us as being “a good thing” seemed to be withheld. The answer Paul received is also God’s answer to you and me, “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” See 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NKJV. God’s abiding and abundant grace will be far better than momentary relief. Confidently, Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV. I want to live with undoubting confidence and tenacious faith.

Here’s the challenge. When the real need of your moment remains unmet too long, you will wonder or ask why. The unwanted, unanswered question will press its way into your thoughts. Emotionally, there is a progression from wondering how your need will be met to worrying if and when the need will be met. Your heart knows God will provide, but you struggle when you don’t know when.

Those questions are emotionally difficult when God appears to remain silent. There is only one answer for the times in life when all you know about God doesn’t match the reality you are presently experiencing. We measure life by moments, minutes, and hours; God measures our lives by eternity. That’s when you must look up into the face of a loving and gracious God and say with all your heart, “My times are in your hands!” Psalm 31:15 NIV. Know this; either God has something far better when you would settle for less right now, or your need is not what you really need at that moment. When you don’t know when, God does. He is always on time, never late. He is ever gracious and giving.

Today, I pray for you to be sure your clock and God’s calendar agree.

Christian Communications 2016

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Needs and Wants

May 4th, 2016

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

What God withholds, you are best without.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “needs and wants.”

We all have needs and wants. Our difficulty is distinguishing between those; our insistence on satisfying both makes those feel ambiguously similar. God has promised to supply your needs. “And My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus . . Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Philippians 4:19/Hebrews 4:16 NKJV. Sometimes, your wants incorrectly masquerade as needs. But God never promised to provide all you want; wants are forever changing, and many times could be unwise for you. With your wants, you must trust God to know and choose what is best for you.

I have heard it said, “It never hurts to ask.” With God, there is no constraint about your asking. In the context of persistence in prayer, Jesus encouraged, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 NIV. Read Luke 11:5-13 NLT. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 NIV. How sad it would be if your needs were not met merely because you didn’t bother to ask God.

Beyond the fact that God relates His generosity to your request, asking is a healthy expression of humility as well as an honest confession of reliance upon God rather than yourself. But be advised; God’s promises are not blank checks you can fill in and cash whenever you want. The Bible is clear about times when God does not respond to your requests as you wish. In fact, James also addressed times when you ask but God does not provide, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3 NIV. What God withholds, you are best without.

God is both loving and wise, a Father who delights to meet your needs, and more. But He is not a doting Father who gives you what you want rather than what is best for you. Having God’s attention is not complicated. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. God’s liberality is forever aligned with His will. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 NKJV. Soak your heart and spirit in the Word of God.

In addition to being persuaded of the will of God, Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 NIV. Believe that what God wills to do, He will do. “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” 1 John 3:21-22 NIV. Your needs are provided by the One described as, “. . Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to trust your wants to His love and place your needs in His hands.

Christian Communications 2016

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EDL Phil 4.19 

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Asking God’s Help

February 20th, 2016

 

“With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NKJV.

Ask for what will most give God pleasure to provide.

My thoughts today are about, “asking God’s help.”

Asking seems such a simple thing; yet people often seem reluctant to ask for assistance. We prefer the illusion of self-sufficiency. Maybe we think our own efforts – experience, abilities, and resources – should be adequate. I am not sure if it is being too proud to ask or if it is a misguided insistence on self-reliance, trying to take care of ourselves before we “bother God” with our needs. God is never bothered by sincere requests for His help. “He who comes to God must believe . . that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

It is foolish to presume that God can’t provide your needs, or worse yet, that He won’t. Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11-12 NIV. Love chooses the practical expression of generosity. Giving finds its greatest joy in providing what is needed, or even most desired. Let God be your first resource rather than your last. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Your Heavenly Father is saddened when you fail to ask Him for what you lack and need. James, the brother of Jesus, framed the problem with words of both counsel and caution. “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:3 NLT. James saw the problem of unanswered prayer as either failure to ask or selfish motives; both are easy to correct. Ask for what you believe will most give God pleasure to provide.

Speaking of common, everyday concerns, Jesus said, “These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Luke 12:30-31 NLT. He expects only the simplest thing of you. All you have to do is ask, “anything according to His will . . and you know you will have what you asked.” 1 John 5:14-15.

Do not be hesitant to ask, but trust His sovereignty and goodness, and then rest content. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to feel free to ask, confident to trust, and grateful to receive.

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Prosperity and Adversity

February 12th, 2016

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV.

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

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son.”
“If” – Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

When I was a young teen, I questioned my Dad, a pastor, about a young husband and father I had admired in our congregation. He had such a heart for God and an expressed interest in ministry. He was personable, eloquent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and diligent. His natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry, until he experienced rapid and unexpected success in his construction business.

As he prospered, his plans adjusted as his interests, time, and attention shifted. I well remember his words, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” The first part of his goal was met and exceeded; the latter intention was neither attempted nor realized. My Dad’s response to my disappointment was specific, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s words. Adversity is difficult; prosperity can be deceptive. Be careful, riches will be deceitful. In His masterful and practical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and [a man] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. Both prosperity and adversity have unique hazards. In the best of times, you may easily forget your need of God’s daily provision; in the worst of times, you can incorrectly assume God will not meet your needs.

Uzziah was a young king of Judah who enjoyed great success during his fifty-two year reign. He beautified and fortified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. He was feared and respected by surrounding nations. His land was fruitful and his people prosperous. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV.

Ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped [by God] until he was strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 NKJV. Prosperity without humility and gratitude is destructive.

Far from the prideful height of acclaim, success, and sufficiency, Uzziah died a leper under the judgement of God, ostracized from others. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

Here is the simple truth Solomon understood, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV. The Apostle Paul gave invaluable advice, “Everywhere and in all things, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV. 

Today, I pray for you to “prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

Christian Communications 2016
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