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Posts Tagged ‘obedience’

Listening Is More Than Hearing

November 7th, 2018

Attentive listening prompts obedience  

“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” James 1:22 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are that,

“Listening is more than hearing.”

My Dad expected obedience. With him, obedience was the norm. If I did not respond accordingly, he would kindly ask if I heard him. He rightly assumed that if I heard him, obedience would be my response. My Dad never threatened me with, “Obey me or else.” My success was his highest hopes for my life. His love was generous and steadfast. His expectations were reasonable and clear.

I regret the times my dad needed to ask, “Allen, did you hear me?” Sometimes, it seems I can still hear his voice when I need reminding that obedience is the best way forward. When there was an issue, the problem was never about my ability to hear; it was always about my willingness to obey. My Dad’s expectation was that if I were truly listening to him, I would hear him clearly and correctly, and I would respond obediently. And I would obey him promptly and completely. He was right to expect that, as is God.

Attentive listening and prompt obedience are two things essential and invaluable for your success in life. Here are two practical realities. You must do more than just listen. You have to obey. If you do not do more than listen, you will not understand what God is saying? And if you don’t understand, how can you obey completely? The Bible says, “These blessings shall come on you . . if you will hearken to the voice of the Lord.” Read Deuteronomy 28:1-14 NKJ. Obedience releases unexpected blessings. The New Testament seems to echo, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” James 1:22 NKJ.

Why do we entertain so many voices, as well as our own inner voice of ideas and opinions? Why would you and I allow meaningless noise to drown out the gentle and essential voice of the Holy Spirit? Why would we listen to voices which deceive, mislead, or distract?

When God spoke to the young Samuel, his response was simple and honest, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10. Samuel placed himself in the posture of a servant prepared to obey whatever God said. Should we do anything other than that? Samuel’s attention and recognition of God’s voice implies that he was listening in order to obey whatever God said. And God had a lot to tell him because the young Samuel was willing to listen when others did not.

You would like to know your future, but you cannot apart from God. Life is lived one day at a time. Ever wonder what God is longing to tell you about what lies ahead? Would you breathe easier today, and worry less about tomorrow, if you knew that God has everything under His control?

When you listen with a predisposition to obey, you will hear the truth-telling whisper of the Spirit in your heart assuring you that, “The Lord goes before you and will be with you . . do not be afraid.” Read Joshua 1:7-9 NIV. Live with a heart to know and obey God; doing so allows you to live with blessed assurance and complete confidence.

My prayer for you today is that you will live confidently and obediently.

Christian Communications 2018

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Finishing Strong

June 26th, 2018

Anyone can start. Only the determined finish.

”I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Finishing Strong.”

Life is a marathon, not a sprint – a competitive race, not a casual run. The Bible says, “Those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize].” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJ. Finish strong. There will be the Father’s acknowledgment,  “well done,” and a crown of righteousness awaiting you.

Life is best lived when you are moving forward, neither slow nor still. In every season of life, it is important to remember that you are never too young or old to tackle a new challenge. Aging is inevitable. Old is optional. Old is more about a diminishing vision than the number of your years. Solomon warned, “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraints.” Proverbs 29:18. Keep your vision clear, your purpose consistent, and your eyes fixed on God. Whatever your age or circumstance, choose to finish strong.

Caleb was a contemporary of Joshua. Read Numbers 13:26-33 / Joshua 14:6-14. Caleb’s path was straight ahead with faith and spiritual vigor. He served with a Godly momentum, continuing strong in his confidence of the Lord who had the character and power to keep His Word, whatever the passing of time or size of the challenge.

Because the passage of time did not change God, Caleb would not let his age change his faith nor lessen his endeavors. “As the Lord promised . . here I am today, eighty-five years old! . . I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Read Joshua 14:10-12 NIV. That is how you finish strong. Caleb chose to live, not accommodating the obstacle before him but by the God who was inside him.

As was the faith of those Old Testament examples, the Apostle Paul kept his eyes focused straight ahead, “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 3:13-14 NIV. Keep your eyes on the goal. Finish strong.

Live in a manner that dedicates to a Godly focus, commits to a worthwhile purpose, and contributes to the well-being of others. At any age, young or old, everyone has something to contribute that can be beneficial to others. To Timothy, his young protégé, Paul assessed his own journey with anticipation, “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJ. Paul finished strong. What a Godly example for Timothy, the young minister. Anyone can start. Only the determined finish.

Live life every day moving forward in faith and obedience. Going somewhere. Accomplishing something. Making a difference. Building on successes. Benefiting from failures. Excelling today. Building for tomorrows.

Foolishly and frequently unrecognized, some people squander their years, energies, and their life on careers, hobbies, or recreation to the unintended and unrecognized neglect of their soul, as well as things important to their joy and accomplishment – such as family, friendships, and serving the Lord by serving others.

The Apostle Paul’s heart was committed to life in its fullness. His clarity of purpose and priority was fixed. “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News.” Acts 20:24 NLT. Along the way, his goal was to live every day until his last day with a growing and Godly momentum – to finish his assignment and fulfill his ministry. Is that the way you live for God today, and will you purpose to do so every day?

Paul summarized his life, “The time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to me on that day – and to all who love His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJ. No time wasted. No effort spared.

I want to live that way. I don’t want to finish in a rocking chair. I want to finish with a flourish, full of faith, fully engaged in life, with steadfast purpose and clear-eyed focus. I don’t want to stand before Jesus with need for apology or regret. I may not set a world record as the fastest or best, but I want to be accelerating when I cross the finish line. How you live every day has everything to do with finishing strong.

My prayer for you today is to give life your best, in His strength, until He comes.

Christian Communications 2018

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Plans and Steps

May 8th, 2018

LIFE IS BEST WHEN GOD IS FIRST.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Plans and Steps.”

A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well, and a plan that is not clear, and manageable on some daily basis, will not lead to success. A plan is like GPS. You first choose your desired destination. Then a plan is formulated as the best way to get there. That could and should be applied to everyday life. A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well. And any plan that is not clear and manageable on some daily basis will not lead to success. Some years ago, a simple yet practical strategy became popular, “Plan the work; work the plan.” Solomon learned that, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 NLT. That remains wise advice in any circumstance.

When you plan, you visualize the priority and time required for the various matters requiring your efforts. When you neglect those moments to think through a day’s responsibilities, you find yourself busy but less productive. Without a plan for the day, energy is misspent, and efforts are less effective. Attention is easily divvied and distracted. Time is poorly allocated. I have learned that important things are often replaced by alternatives that seem easier and more immediately enjoyable.

Direction is necessary for production. Now, let’s look at this on a larger scale with more eternal consequence. This principle especially applies to your spiritual life, as well as your daily life. Those two are inseparable, by the way. You will be more successful at the latter, when you succeed at the former. You cannot successfully compartmentalize your life into differing categories, seasons, or circumstances, in some of which you retain operational control while in others you are expecting God to direct and bless. Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. Jesus made this clear, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

Often, my Dad reminded me, “Allen, first things first!” It’s very simple really. First, you work, then you play. First, you save, then you spend. First, you seek God’s plan, then you follow His plan. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Read Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT. You and your wellbeing have been in God’s plans from the beginning and continue to be.

Life is best when God is first. God has the definitive plan for your life. Scripture is consistent. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. Through prayer and Scripture, let God plan your work. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

That being true, then devote yourself to knowing and following His plan. That is called obedience, a priority to God and a necessity for your success. Obedience will supply you with the necessary focus and ability you do not otherwise possess. Obedience will produce opportunities you neither earned nor expected. And obedience will yield achievement you do not imagine. God’s direction is always accurate; His timing is always exact; His results are always abundant.

Today I pray for you to discover God’s purpose in all you do and with all you have.

Christian Communications 2018-1308

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The Law of Return

February 13th, 2018

Life is reciprocal.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

 My thoughts and comments today are about, “the law of return.”

Life is not random, even though it occasionally appears to be. Life is reciprocal. It is important that you understand, “The Law of Return.” The principle is rather simple, but applies either positively or negatively. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed . . He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” Proverbs 11:24-27 NIV. What is not to understand? God’s heart and desire were clear to the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. God’s promises are fulfilled within the measure of your obedience.

Let me state the principle simply and in a practical way. You get what you give, not what you want or demand. What you do not give first you will not receive except as charity, however much you expect or insist otherwise. When you do the right things in the right way, the Creator’s loving touch and generosity can be seen everywhere. In far more instances than the exceptions, good things happen to people who do good things for others. That is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Good deeds reproduce good deeds. Good will responds to good will. Kind words are the response from kind words. Generosity creates gratitude. Conversely, inappropriate actions or unworthy attitudes result in a similar return. Be an example, a good one. Whatever you expect of others, demand even more of yourself. You are wise to heed the warning of God’s Word, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

Life is not as you deem it to be, or wish that it were. Life is established on God’s terms, and works accordingly. You might muscle your will and way for a while, but inevitably and ultimately life works the way the Creator determined it should. As in the beginning, God has spoken over His creation, “Let there be, and there was.” That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be. God established eternal laws and principles by which His world works.

Foolishly and to minimal or temporary effect, you and I may try to force life to work the way we would prefer, but all efforts which are contrary to His Word, will, and wisdom, are eventually to little avail. Your lasting success, enduring satisfaction, and eternal reward depend on your learning God’s ways and cooperating with those. Isaiah was clear when He echoed God’s declaration, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways..’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV. It is foolish pride to think that any of us are wiser than God, even in the matters of our own daily life.

Jesus stated the truth simply, practically, and clearly. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV. That has often been referred to as the Golden Rule. The principle of return works for your good or to your loss, depending on how you choose to cooperate with its practical truth. “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

And Jesus identifies Himself with others,“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45 NIV. Our regard, or lack of regard, for others impacts what God is able to do for us. That too is the Law of Return. God’s Word is true and His provision is unfailing, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

My prayer for you and those who follow your example is, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord.” Psalm 115:14-15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for your life to abound with God’s grace and benevolence.

Christian Communications 2018

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Being Extraordinary

September 20th, 2016

Extraordinary is all about who God is rather than who you are.

edl-extraordinary

We are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.” Romans 8:37 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being extraordinary.”

Whether it’s a sports competition or a friendly, family game at the kitchen table, it feels good to win. But winning does not seem to come so easily in the area that matters most, everyday life. The world, as the Bible describes this daily arena of the spiritual conflict of culture and values, can be a formidable adversary. But do not be anxious; victory is possible, even assured for the true child of God.

John affirmed, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even your faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4-5 NIV. Obviously, it is very important that you establish that you are born of God, therefore empowered to overcome. “Loving God means keeping His commandments, and really, that isn’t difficult.” 1 John 5:3 NLT. Conviction and obedience are the evidences of the person who is born of God.

Jesus said this in the most plain and simple way, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 NIV. When just a teen, my heart was pierced by a question Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things I say?” Luke 6:47 NIV. Jesus equates love with obedience. Aren’t we all capable of accurately acknowledging who God is, yet doing things inconsistent with our proclamation of faith? That inconsistency will allow the world to overcome you, rather than your overcoming the world.

Ordinary is a good word to describe any of us, but not God; extraordinary describes and defines our God. Extraordinary is all about who He is, not who you are. See Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV. The good news is this: the most ordinary person convinced of the authority and ability of their extraordinary God can successfully overcome a world system that would otherwise confront, confuse, and seduce them. We miss the point when we try to do extraordinary things when we just have to be ordinary people who allow God to be extraordinary in us. If ordinary is all that’s required, I would say that most of us are prime candidates to be extraordinary in Christ. Hebrews 11 is a litany of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. See Philippians 2:13 NLT.

Ordinary is not so bad when you believe extraordinary accomplishments are within the reach of your faith, a faith that is safe and secure in His love so that nothing can defeat you. Paul was certain, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.” See Romans 8:35-39 NIV. I am not sure what “more than a conqueror” is, but it is surely enough to make you victorious over all, and with some to spare. Now that’s extraordinary.

Today, I pray for you to be confident that you and Jesus will always be more than enough.

Christian Communications 2016

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