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Posts Tagged ‘opinions’

History and Destiny

September 25th, 2015

“For by grace you have been saved through faith . . the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 NKJV.

Your identity is not found in the debris of your past failures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “history and destiny.”

Everyone has a history; everyone has a destiny. History is who you have been; destiny is who you are in Christ. History traces the path to where you are; destiny promises who you can become. “God Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Read Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV.

It seems we are more easily preoccupied with our own or others’ past record of struggles and failures than with the possibilities and opportunities still ahead. Possibilities for you are limitless in Christ. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. In redemption, God replaces your history with destiny.

In the beginning, it was wonderfully simple. God said, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV. Sin is common to us all, but sin cannot change your origin. You came from God’s heart and hands. But life – your faults and failures as well as the hurts and misunderstandings from the fallen humanity of others – clouded the image with which you were created and your understanding of the Father’s purpose for you. Subsequent inability to reconcile the way things are with the way things should have been produces inner tension and confusion.

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, but many people struggle with a confused identity. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:29-30 NIV. I recognize three challenges that confront your assurance of identity.

(1) The brokenness of our own self-knowledge. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV. History is rehearsed in your memory with excruciating detail. You have to discover anew your identity in Jesus before all the stuff happened that you allowed to shape who you now believe yourself to be. Your identity is not found in the debris of your failures or the failures of others toward you. Believe God and His Word.

(2) The ill-founded evaluation of others. Your sense of self is wrongly shaped by others’ opinions, criticisms, and judgments of you. Leave all judgment to Him who judges righteously. The judgments of anyone, including your own, mean little until the Righteous Judge, who knows even the thoughts and intent of the heart, examines one’s life. The Apostle Paul foresaw that day, “At that time, each will receive his praise from God.” Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV.

(3) The lengthy process of rebuilding broken lives. Never assume the difficulty, delay, or slow progress mean success is not yours. Recovery takes a lot of grace, patience, obedience, perseverance, hope, and faith. “Being confident of this . . that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV.

God rebuilds what self and sin have damaged or destroyed, through daily application of the Word of God, the work of Christ, the fellowship of His Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit to restore His “image and likeness” anew. God replaces your history with destiny. Your Identity in Christ is assured and secure. Read Colossians 1:21-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live confidently, eternally secure in Christ Jesus.

To be continued . . .

Last Sunday, I taught on “Identity Theft” at Freedom Fellowship, New Braunfels, TX. The teaching is also available at their website, freedomnb.org. Then scroll down to the sermon title to listen or download the teaching. Please respond if you listen so I will know if audio teachings would be helpful in the future on EveryDay Life . . .

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Christian Communications 654

 

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Think Outside the Box

January 30th, 2015

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.

Judging others assumes you are correct in your assumptions.

My thoughts and comments today suggest that you “think outside the box.”

EDL Box glassMaybe you have heard the phrase, “Think outside the box.” The phrase comes from our common tendency to design “boxes” – intentionally or unintentionally – into which we assign ourselves or other people. Literally, a box imposes certain limits; it may feel a safe place temporarily but is always a confining space. A “box” contains a person to only what they have been or have been assumed to be. We sometimes even do that to ourselves. Once believed, even a mistaken opinion is difficult to change or ignore. Do not allow others’ opinions to confine you in any kind of “box,” accepting the irrational inevitability of the limits their opinions impose. You are a new creature in Christ.

Even Jesus was misjudged. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Read Matthew 13:54-58 NIV. He was that, but so much more. The Apostle Paul was often misunderstood by those he sought to serve. “For some say, ‘[Paul’s] letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’” 2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV. Paul would not be put into a “box” of others’ opinions. Does your initial opinion of people or situations too quickly become a judgment about them and expectation of them? Judging presumes you know what and why another has acted as they did, and that you are correct in your assumptions.

“Do you look at things according to the outward appearance?” 2 Corinthians 10:7. Appearances are more often misleading than accurate. People, as well as circumstances, are rarely as they first appear. An inaccurate impression possesses the power to either enhance or diminish your initial assumption. An assumption separated from reliable facts results in a faulty interpretation. By outward appearances alone, you will incorrectly evaluate circumstances as either beneficial or detrimental, and react accordingly. Reactions are the fruit of faulty estimations; responses are the product of thoughtful decisions. You cannot live wisely until you learn to distinguish between natural reactions and spiritual responses. Such an obstinate, natural tendency requires a redemptive, spiritual solution.

As always, you can find practical counsel and wisdom in God’s Word. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV. Avoid a worldly point of view – about yourself and about others. Paul is plainly saying, “Think outside the box.”

Rest your history in God’s redeeming love. Release others’ future into the caring, healing hands of a Savior. Outside the box of your habits, negative feelings, misconceptions, assumptions, labels by others, past hurts and failures, old mistakes, painful memories, bad choices, and sins forgiven but not forgotten, you can be “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Think of yourself as the new creation in Christ that you are. You are not what you were; you can be more than you are. Of this truth, I am grateful, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV. Therefore, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Read Proverbs 4:20-23.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are free to become all that God believes you to be.

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Your Story

July 31st, 2014

“We testify and announce to you that [Jesus] is the One who is eternal life.” 1 John 1:2 NLT.

Share your story with sincerity and authenticity.

My thoughts and comments today are about “your story.”

Some talk a lot, but say little that ultimately matters. Others can speak volumes in an economy of words. Treat your words as holding value not volume. Solomon observed, “A fool is full of words . . a truly wise person uses few words . . even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent . . wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites trouble.” Ecclesiastes 10:14KJV/ Proverbs 17:27-28 NLT/10:14 NLT. It doesn’t take much discernment to tell the difference between a fool and a wise person. People listen to those who have character, experience, and credibility.

I grow weary of the plethora of opinions offered 24 hour a day, now amplified by the Internet where anyone can find a platform and presence. There seem to be self-proclaimed experts with opinions about everything – world events, politics, personal investing, legal advice, health issues, marriage and relationships, parenting, fashion and culture, and of course, religion. As a follower of Jesus, you have a powerful, personal story to tell and it is truth, not opinion.

Don’t be intimidated into silence by people who have an opinion about everything, yet little to say of eternal consequence. Such people are why the message is sometimes not spoken, and other times not heard. You have the greatest truth in the world to share, which is your testimony of the redeeming power of God to save the soul and change a life. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he [or she] is a new creation; old things have passed away, and all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Your story has influence because it is the inarguable, personal testimony of your life that is changed and is lived accordingly. Such a life-giving story will be heard.

Someone near you needs to hear your story. They may not know they do, or even want to hear, but they need it nonetheless. That’s why John wrote, “We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life . . and now we testify and announce to you that [Jesus] is the One who is eternal life . . We are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3 NLT. The question is whether you will share your story with sincerity and authenticity, not whether others will receive it.

You need to realize that everything God has ever done in your life has one purpose – to make you His servant and witness. God spoke to Paul at his dramatic conversion, “Tell the world about this experience . . to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. They will receive forgiveness from their sins.” See Acts 26:16-18 NLT.

Today, my prayer for you is that the heart of your story is the mercy and majesty of Jesus.

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Opinions and Judgments

May 5th, 2014

“In the same way that you judge others, you will be judged. Matthew 7:2 NIV.

 Be charitable in your opinions and careful in your judgments.

My thoughts and comments today are about “opinions and judgments.”

It is easy to misjudge. You can certainly misunderstand what another person has said or is reported to have said, or misinterpret what a person has done or been accused of doing, or mistake someone’s motive – wrongly presuming that you know what another was thinking or intending. Doing so leads to misjudgments.

Harm comes from misjudgments. You cannot be sure of your own motivations. How could you possibly be certain of someone else’s? Read Jeremiah 17:9-10. The Bible cautions, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV. That should give anyone cause for caution.

A friend taught me a practical way to differentiate between having an opinion and making a judgment. Those may seem similar, but they are worlds apart. Opinions are plenteous, even unavoidable. Everybody has them; some people have too many of them for anyone’s good – and too many of the ones they have are frequently incorrect. People have opinions about matters that are their business and some that are not. The danger comes from holding strong opinions that are often nothing more than an individual’s likes or dislikes, preferences or prejudices, as much unexplainable whim as any firm reason. Don’t confuse your subjective opinion with an accurate, objective judgment.

The matter of judgments is more serious. There are judgments that should be made, and must be made, but those should be left to those who have been given the authority and responsibility to make them. When tempted to pass judgment on someone or something, first ask yourself, “Is this my God-given responsibility and authority?”

The Godly principle is simple and practical; if you don’t have the proper responsibility, be assured you have not been given rightful authority. God does not permit you to judge where He does not authorize you to rule. “Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another . . God alone, who made the Law, can rightly judge among us.” Romans 14:10-13 NIV/James 4:11-12 NLT. Ultimately, God’s opinion is the only one that matters eternally. “He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.” See Psalm 9:7-8 NLT.

You will be happier and enjoy better relationships if you recognize what is best left to others, and take better care of responsibilities that are yours. Be charitable in your opinions and careful in your judgments. You don’t know all there is to know; don’t be so sure of what you do. I wish I could say that I have learned the principle well and practice it better, but I still live in what my friend, Campbell, described as, “The biggest room in the world – the room for improvement.”

My prayer for you today is that you do not confuse your opinions with God’s judgments.

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The Miracle and Mystery of Healing

January 29th, 2014

“Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 NLT.

The essential elements of healing are the grace and sovereignty of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the miracle and mystery of healing.”

Few things present more unanswered questions and opinions than healing through prayer and faith. It would be easy to struggle with the questions: if healing occurs, how healing occurs, and why healing occurs, or more commonly, why it doesn’t. The reality is that many of us have more questions than answers in this very real area of spiritual life. Wisdom is not letting answers you don’t have dissuade you from the answer God gives. The Savior that has the power to forgive sins also holds the power to heal. Read Mark 2:1-12 NIV/Isaiah 53:4-6 NKJV.

God’s Word is clear, “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:14-15 NLT.

Is that true? Of course it is. God’s Word says it is, providing many examples of healings in both the Old and New Testament, and through the ministry of Jesus, as well as others. Anyone willing to look honestly into God’s Word will find the promise of healing as well as its successful practice. Across history, and yet today, there are many such testimonies. Whatever else you question, you are not left to wonder if healing is promised in God’s Word. Don’t wait until you understand all of God’s mysteries; simply be available to God’s miraculous power and divine possibilities.

When my Dad was a teenager, my grandmother was diagnosed as, “terminal.” At the invitation of a neighbor, she and my Dad visited a small church in Buffalo, New York, where she was prayed for. Never having been in a church until he was seventeen, he accompanied his mother who was prayed for and miraculously healed that Sunday night, living several decades longer. The Randolph family came to faith through her miraculous healing, her story reaching across generations to our family today, and our children, our grandchildren, and hopefully to their children as well.

Years later as a pastor, married, and with a two-year-old son (that was me), my Dad was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever, severely affecting his heart and leaving him debilitated for six months, requiring constant help for the simplest activities of every day care. Like his mother years earlier, he was prayed for and miraculously healed. Those stories and others wondrously filled my childhood. Some may try to reduce James’ words to a formula to force God to work at their will. Others wrongly assume that unless everyone is healed, then no one actually could be.

Healing is both a mystery and miracle. I confess I do not know how healing happens, nor why healing does not always occur for the most desperately needy or apparently most deserving. But unanswered questions must not dismiss the answer given in God’s Word. The Bible is true; “Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 NLT.

Of this be certain, healing is the Lord’s doing. Prayer and faith – your own or another’s – are significant components to the possibility of healing, but the absolutely essential elements of healing are the grace and sovereignty of God. You can neither make healing apply as you wish, nor should you dismiss healing as a wondrous possibility for your life.

My prayer for you today is: believe in and expect the power of God every day.

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