Posts Tagged ‘Non-negotiable’

Moral Excellence

January 24th, 2015

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue [moral excellence].” 2 Peter 1:5 NKJV.

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Moral excellence is non-negotiable with God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “moral excellence.”

Morality touches every area of your life, expressing both your public and private life and evidencing who you are as well as what you say or do. The roots of personal morality are the invaluable qualities of integrity, such as exemplary character and chaste conduct – being truthful, generous, unselfish, trustworthy, just, and other such uncommon qualities. For every Christ-follower, those must be non-negotiable. See Ephesians 5:3-6 NIV. Paul was clear, “That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness.” Read Philippians 1:9-11. Moral excellence is the normal standard for the Kingdom of God and its citizens.

In one practical area of moral excellence, the more prominent majority neither aligns itself with God’s Word nor acknowledges the evident debris of hearts and homes such disregard produces. The Bible is explicit, ”It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable . . For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”  Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NIV. This is one of those sections of Scripture that some prefer to rationalize, or dismiss all together.

There are unscrupulous profiteers who pander to an appetite for sexual stimulation, ambiguity, and exploitation. God is not against sexuality, nor afraid of yours. It was His creation, not Adam’s. Therefore, God knows best how it works to bless and enrich lives with profound pleasure rather than pain, and bind hearts together not break them carelessly. “Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord . . flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against their own body . . . or do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you . . . you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:13/18-20.

The record plainly shows that sexual involvement before the bonds of marriage or outside the bounds of marriage weakens the fabric of mutual commitment and increases the likelihood of later unfaithfulness, or even divorce. When a person chooses to exempt themselves from God’s intent and design for physical intimacy, there are inevitable consequences. When God’s Word is ignored, He is dishonored, His heart broken, and your future is diminished.

The sum of the matter is this: in love, God established both clear boundaries for moral purity and strong bonds for moral excellence. “Be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust . . giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue [moral excellence] . . self-control . . Godliness . . For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted. . and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” Read 2 Peter 1:4-11.

Anyone at any time can settle for something less than excellence in any area of life, but not without personal expenditure. Moral excellence is non-negotiable with God. Indulging yourself and involving another in something other than moral excellence comes at a terrible price, both to the human heart naturally and to one’s soul spiritually. See Galatians 6:7-9 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is that a momentary indulgence not be your disregard of an eternal reality.

(Bible verses are NKJV unless noted)

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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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Things Non-negotiable

August 1st, 2012

“Having done everything to stand, stand firm therefore.” Ephesians 6:13

Clear and correct convictions keep you on a straight course.

My thoughts and comments today are about “things non-negotiable.”

Today’s culture seems to espouse a frightening lack of real convictions. A conviction is defined as, “a firm and strong belief.” Too often, too many people have traded conviction for convenience. Their beliefs are loosely held, subject to a change of mind. to such people, beliefs seem negotiable, open to re-interpretation at any moment or as personal advantage dictates.

Some politicians test their position on issues against various voting blocks, adapting to what will garner the larger number of votes. Some leaders don’t set their course until checking the polls of public opinion. Some elected officials are more worried about approval ratings and re-election than about doing what is right. Some business executives compromise moral values for a boosted stock price, or meeting the market’s expectations, or inflating the value of their own shares.

A manufacturer may cheapen a product’s durability or safety, all for the sake of a company’s bottom line. A man or woman – young or old – may sell the purity of their heart or the sanctity of their marriage for a moment of foolish pleasure. A teen can violate a parent’s trust to enjoy the fickle approval of the wrong crowd. Such moments evidence lack of personal conviction. Absolutes are unpopular; consensus is king. Truth is relative; values are flexible. Right is adjustable; wrong is debatable. Those faulty beliefs will lead your heart astray.

Someone cleverly observed, “The man who stands for nothing will fall for anything!” A compass always points “true north.” You can trust it to find your way. The world that surrounds and calls you to follow has no moral compass, no true north. The Apostle Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost is needed even more today, “strongly urging . . . save yourselves from this generation that has gone astray” Acts 2:40 NLT. Clear and correct convictions keep you on a straight course.

You will need to determine what is non-negotiable for you. Do not let the crowd set the price for your soul. Do not allow the culture around you – its fads, fashions, or fascinations – to dictate your lifestyle and pursuits. See 1 Corinthians 7:31. You cannot know who you really are, or who you are meant to be in Christ, until you firmly fix your bottom line morally and spiritually.

Purity, virtue, honesty, loyalty, integrity, and righteousness are things non-negotiable. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm, let nothing move you.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. I appreciate the old English phrasing of the King James: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Standing fast; standing firm, standing fruitful in the work of the Lord!

For the child of God, that is not left to chance or private interpretation. Isaiah, the Old Testament Prophet, promised “There will be a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it . . . a highway of Holiness where a man, though a fool, will not err therein” Isaiah 30:21/ 35:8. A life lived that way will never have been lived in vain. “Having done everything to stand, stand firm therefore . . . with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” Read Ephesians 6:13-18. Know the Word of God, ever listening to the voice of God within your heart.

My prayer for you today is that you live with clear and firm conviction of God’s righteousness.

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Sight Unseen

December 22nd, 2011

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

“Faith is a non-negotiable for experiencing God.”

My thoughts today are about “sight unseen.”

People say that “seeing is believing,” but is that always true? With the capability of CGI special effects (Computer Generated Imagery) and the ability to Photoshop digital pictures, can it still be assumed that “seeing is believing?” With today’s digital gymnastics can you believe everything you see, really?

That assumption was turned upside down when Jesus said that “believing is seeing!” When Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, was told of Jesus’ resurrection, he dismissed the claim, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25/29 NKJV. Imagine Thomas’ surprise when Jesus appeared, alive and well! “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus reserved His praise for those who believed sight unseen!

Paul instructed the believers at Corinth, “We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV. Which describes your spiritual life – faith or sight? Sight is the folly of trusting only what you can physically experience for yourself through your five senses – seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, tasting. Here’s the problem with that requirement. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by His Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT.

Faith rests solely on what God says to be true, strengthened by the personal testimony of those who have found His Word reliable. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV. Faith envisions a greater reality, sight unseen.

“So you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NLT. Faith is a non-negotiable for experiencing God. How do you develop and practice that kind of faith? “Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV.

Be clear on this: faith is not talking a good game; faith is acting according to, and consistent with, your faith. Faith is not a mental exercise or a talking point; it is obedience and action. “By faith, Enoch pleased God . . by faith, Noah built . . by faith, Abraham obeyed . . by faith, Sarah conceived . . by faith, Moses forsook . . by faith, Israel passed through the Red Sea . . through faith subdued, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped lions, quenched violence, escaped the  sword, were strong, became valiant, turned armies to flight, received their dead raised to life.” Read Hebrews 11:2-39 NKJV. Faith results in action verbs -something you are empowered to  do at the prompting of your faith. That’s what real, Biblical faith can do, sight unseen!

My prayer for you today is that you anchor your life on the integrity of God’s Word.

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A Life Pleasing to God

November 16th, 2011

“By faith Enoch . . had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 NKJV

“Pleasing God is not about perfect performance, but is about complete trust and obedience.”

My thoughts today are about a “life pleasing to God.”

Be prepared; you will occasionally come across people that are difficult to please. That is unavoidable. People that are unhappy and not very pleased with themselves, or much of anything or anyone else, can be difficult. Somewhere in the real life reality of such experiences, an unfounded fear creeps in that God may be hard to please as well. After all, His expectations are pretty high, and His example is without parallel. He is perfect, never failing, never faltering. So how could any of us please God?

A very sad day occurred when our son was a young high schooler. After a serious discussion about his grades which were average but I believed less than his capability, I realized the conversation had been a stern monologue rather than a discussion and more intense than I meant. For his sake and future, I could not accept his allowing less than his best effort. Yes, his grades mattered to me, but not as much as he mattered. I found him in his room. My heart broke as I heard him say, “Dad, there’s nothing I do that pleases you!” His pain became my pain, and sitting down beside him on his bed, I tried to reassure him that my discontent with his grades was by no means my displeasure with him. Do you ever feel like God is a parent you cannot please? I think God also feels as I did when we think He cannot be pleased.

Jesus models and teaches exactly the opposite. His Father testified to all, “This is My beloved Son; I am fully pleased with Him.” 2 Peter 1:17-18 NLT. Fully pleased! What more need be said? Jesus models a life in the certainty that God is pleased. Jesus had unquestioned confidence; “I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. When you know that God is pleased, there is freedom that is hard to explain and courage to live life with boldness. But you might say, “Of course, Jesus pleased God; He was the Son of God. But what about me? I deal with mine and others’ humanity every day.”

The Bible records this remarkable statement about a man: “By faith Enoch . . had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 NKJV. If Enoch did, you can! Simple faith pleases God. Hebrews 11:6. Sincere obedience pleases God. 1 John 3:22-23 NIV. A worthy life pleases God. Colossians 1:10 NIV. Doing good and sharing pleases God. Hebrews 13:16 NLT. Those are a sample, but are non-negotiables.

Pleasing God is not about perfect performance, but is about complete trust and obedience. Here is the secret. “And now, may the God of peace . . equip you with all you need for doing his will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him.” Hebrews 13:20 NLT. Read that again. Observe that God equips you with all He expects from you. You can do what God asks! And God will produce in you what is pleasing to Him. He enables you to do what you otherwise could not.

My prayer for you today is that you give God your best and trust Him for the rest.

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