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Faith, Hope, and Love

November 8th, 2017

Hope is a picture in your heart of a desired future.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faith, Hope, and Love.”

The Biblical concept of hope has been sorely diluted. Biblically, hope is a powerful force, even described as, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hope is a picture of a desired future. God places hope in your heart – of what should be and therefore could be. Incorrectly, it is easy to think of hope as not dissimilar to wishful thinking, something you wish would happen, but really doubt it will. We assume hope is something unlikely, anything but certain. To the contrary, the Bible places hope in the esteemed company of the dynamic, spiritual forces of faith and love. (Reference Hebrews 11 and I Corinthians 13). “Now we see things imperfectly . . but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NLT.

For now, yours and my personal knowledge is limited, imperfect, and incomplete. Why would you rely upon such unreliable things? Yet that limited, imperfect and incomplete knowledge seems to most often be the foundation for our feelings, fears, and expectations. Those offer only an uncertain foundation. In contrast, the Bible describes hope this way, “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NIV. Strength and stability is found in Biblical hope.

Such hope is not fragile, but our assurance and conviction can be. Learning to, “walk by faith and not sight,“ is challenging. “We were saved in this hope, [the redemption of our body], but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25 NKJV. Are you learning, “to eagerly wait with perseverance.” There is a dynamic tension between those two character attributes that results in each being stronger than it could be alone. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He Who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV.

God’s Word is filled with examples. Let’s just look at Abraham, an elderly man with a barren wife who was told by God that he would be, “the father of nations.” The Bible shares Abraham’s story in both Old and New Testaments. His story is a story of indiscourageable hope. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed . . he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Read Romans 4:18-21 NIV. With God, present truth trumps previous facts. Abraham faced the facts but believed the truth of God’s promise. Read Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV.

The sum of the matter is the Apostle Paul’s clear instruction, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV. I am not sure the latter two attitudes and actions are possible without a joyful hope. How do you and I develop a joyful hope? Hope rests on truth. Truth that is eternal is found in God’s Word and character. “That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV. The Bible is clear, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know and trust the integrity of God’s Word, in spite of all else.

Christian Communications 2017

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Wait and See

October 4th, 2017

Patience Is the Posture of Waiting With Hope and Trust.

 “By your patience, possess your souls.” Luke 21:19 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Wait and See.”

Waiting is not my favorite pastime. I guess I always wanted the benefit of knowing the outcome of things. Many times in my youth, my Mom wisely advised me to, “just wait and see.” With the value of history and hindsight, she understood a simple principle that I did not. There are times when you must just be patient enough to wait and see. Urgently, we think we need to see, but God knows we need to wait and see. Paul explained this interim time in these words, “Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

In life, you will experience unforeseen challenges at inconvenient times. Don’t project today’s crisis onto your future. Sometimes you must be willing to wait and see. Successfully navigating such moments requires Godly optimism, with large amounts of patience. Waiting is never our preferred option. None of us enjoy waiting. Without perspective, waiting is challenging and stressful. Impatience is a common emotion in such moments.

There are times when the past as well as the present are less than clearly understood. So why then are we surprised when the future seems a bit obscure? Our impatience produces anxiety about things unforeseen. Life is a tension between what is and what yet will be. As I see it, the problem is that our knowledge is incomplete and our impatience is unsettling. While describing this tension, Paul directed us to hope. “Now we see things imperfectly, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

With God’s Word in your thoughts and hope in your heart, you can wait with anticipation and patience. Without hope, dread and anxiety will color your concerns for the unknown future. The Bible offers this insight, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25 NIV. Patience is a virtue. Hope is the foundation upon which patience is developed. In an earlier chapter, Paul wrote of, “this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2 NKJV. Patience is the posture of waiting in hope and trust.

Waiting can and should be used profitably, not squandered in wasted worry. Waiting on God with expectation evidences a confidence so strong in God, and His nature, and Word, that your faith continues to grow even with every apparent delay. Forewarning His disciples of the mistreatment and opposition they would face, Jesus concluded with this encouraging instruction, “By your patience, possess your souls.” Luke 21:19 NKJV. Patience is evidenced by living today with optimism for tomorrow.

But sometimes, you may just feel too weak and weary to struggle on. The Bible has a faith-building word for you. “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV. Meanwhile, I will stand alongside the Psalmist. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word, I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to choose patience and embrace His peace.

 

Christian Communications 2017

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Abiding and Abounding Love

August 25th, 2017

Nothing lasts without God as its source and center.

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love.” 1 Thess 3:12 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Abiding and Abounding Love.”

Loving and being loved is essential to a healthy, happy life. After listing multiple, essential Christian graces – compassion, kindness, humility, patience, gentleness, and forgiveness – Paul added, And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Read Colossians 3:12-14 NIV. All else is incomplete without sincere love at its heart. Love contains and completes all other Godly virtues. Love for God and one another is the crowning grace of all else. But love is never easy all the time.

Conditions complicate love. Sometimes without realizing your having done so, you may have thought to yourself, “I will love you, as long as you ( fill in your conditions ).” Love with limitations will always be taking inventory, making sure your conditions are being met. Provisional love will neither produce nor protect strong marriages, nor safe homes, nor solid friendships. Conditional love cannot hold people together when misunderstandings inevitably arise or when the blush of love’s emotion wanes.

In contrast, Jesus’ love for you is unconditional, just as He commands you to love others. “Now I am giving you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT. That is a high standard, but a lesser goal will not sustain your faith in all times, nor friendships for a long time, nor love for a lifetime.

Do you want to know God’s practical benchmarks of love in daily life? God’s Word says what love is and love is not. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT. Did you notice the last characteristic? “Love endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever!” Even when you feel like it won’t; it will. Forever does not begin in eternity. Forever begins now and reaches across and throughout eternity.

“I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV. Such persevering love rests on the firm foundation of His own love for you. “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope.” Lamentations 3:22-24 TEV.

Nothing lasts without God as its Source and Center. This is my prayer and hope for you today. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NKJV. Love will not endure unless God originates and sustains it. God is the only source of abiding and abounding love. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” John 15:9-10 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that out of God’s wondrous love, you will love always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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Seeds and Harvests

November 18th, 2014

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 NKJV.

Every seed you plant schedules a harvest.

My thoughts and comments today are about “seeds and harvests.”

I don’t know anyone who enjoys waiting. What you want, you want now. But that is not how life works. Things that come too quickly or too easily are not appreciated as fully. God designed life to have a necessary process. “Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient.” James 5:7-8 NLT. And without the process, you will miss the preparation essential to experience God’s best. David got it right. “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in Your hand.’” Psalm 31:14-15 NAS. Peace and satisfaction come when you rest in God’s hands and trust in God’s time.

Solomon wisely observed, “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses . . God has set the right time for everything.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 TEV. Life works best when you believe God and trust His timing. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart; and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 NIV. Trust and tranquility relax life, granting you patience with peace of heart and mind.

Process is important. God’s process begins with sowing and ends with harvest. Every harvest begins with a seed. With no seed planted or no patience with the process, you will not experience a harvest. Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever has. Here are two simple, practical considerations: sow what you plan to reap (See Galatians 6:7-9); sow in the measure that you hope to reap. See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. NIV.

Those who pour their life generously into the lives of others are replenished, while those who hold and hoard everything for themselves worry about parting with what they have and end up losing it, or not enjoying it while they have it. The Bible says, “Some people give their money freely and still grow richer. Others are cautious, and yet grow poorer. Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped. People curse a man who hoards . .” Proverbs 11:24-26 TEV.

Now, when you have planted seed in abundance having allowed the necessary process for the planted seed to germinate and release its inherent life, God promises the time of harvest will come just as He established from the beginning. Every seed you plant schedules a harvest. God built His promise into every seed. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 NKJV. You plant the seeds; God promises the harvest.

God wants to bless you and give you more; His intent is far greater than your having excess. There should be a distinction between excess and abundance. Excess is what you hoard and hide for yourself. Abundance is the means from which you validate your stewardship to God and exhibit a generosity toward others. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV. Jesus’ context was about forgiveness, but the principle is broadly applicable to every area of stewardship in the Kingdom of God.

Today, my prayer for you is that you sow in faith so that you may reap in joy.

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