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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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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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Good Success

July 18th, 2016

Let the best of your past be the boost for your future.

“David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “good success.”

David and Goliath are a favorite story of mine. David achieved monumental success against all odds. Everyone likes a story where the good guy wins. Wouldn’t it be great if you could know and copy David’s secret? Success is not that simple. There is rarely just one solution. Almost as a footnote the Bible records, “David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV. Ever curious about why David selected five stones? Without God, five ordinary stones are not all that more confidence building than one. The Bible does not answer that question, which allows us to consider why he might have done so.

If you are serious about succeeding, I suggest you will be open to more than one way to achieve your goal. You need the kind of attitude that boldly says, “Whatever it takes!” Maybe David chose five stones because he didn’t know which one God would direct to its mark; he was just sure that God would make the most of his every effort. You can be sure of that as well. I suggest “five stones” as practical contributors to meaningful accomplishments.

  1. Learn from your failure; build on your success. Do not dwell on failures nor forget successes. Understanding those avoids further mistakes and celebrates victories as confidence boosters. People usually do just the opposite, recalling every painful, trivial detail of failure while discounting triumphs God helped them achieve.
  2. Let the best of your past be the boost for your future. David remembered well. “God who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37. Be careful; your focus determines your direction and expectation; make sure that moves you upward and onward. Paul practiced this: “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.
  3. Concern yourself more with God’s honor than your reputation. Like everything else in life, success is not about you and your enrichment or acclaim; your success brings glory to God’s Name and reveals His nature to bless Godly efforts. “I come to you in the Name of the Lord Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. . the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. And everyone will know the Lord does not need weapons to rescue His people. It is His battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!” 1 Samuel 17:45-47. It’s not about you; it’s all about Him and His victory and glory.
  4. Success does not come to spectators. David was willing to join the battle. He was impassioned, “Who is this that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . Is there not a cause?” 1 Samuel 17:26/29. He became personally involved. Success does not come while you watch; success comes when you work.
  5. Never give up short of a Godly goal. I read this statement, “Success is 10% ability and good fortune, and 90% perseverance.” Someone else observed, “The harder I work the more fortunate I become.” Every success is built on a history of effort and perseverance. “In everything [David] did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14 NIV. Success awaits you.

Today, I pray that you experience the satisfaction of good effort amid the joy of success.

EDLdavid_and_goliath 7-18-16

Christian Communications 2016

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The Sacred Quest

September 9th, 2014

“Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8 NKJV.

Spiritual attainment requires serious intention.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the sacred quest.”

A meaningful Christian life is not found by curious or casual inquiry. Any serious pursuit of God requires sincerity and priority. God is neither elusive nor is the path to Him concealed, but the opposition to your doing so is intense, internally and externally. There is a sacred path reserved to those for whom life without God is not enough; it is a path for the decisive and determined.

When Jesus’ description of suffering and sacrifice fell unpleasantly upon the offended ears of those who looked only for easy paths, the crowds dwindled and Jesus asked His disciples if they would also turn away. I love Peter’s prompt response, “Lord, to whom shall we go, for You only have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. What you believe to be of inestimable value and for which there is no suitable substitute is worthy of whole hearted passion.

David pledged, O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You . . My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:1 NIV/8 KJV. Spiritual attainment requires serious intention. Things of spiritual value do not come cheaply; their very cost measures their eternal worth. God Himself described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 7:22.

In Jesus’ story about earnest, undiscourageable persistence, He defined the heart’s quest as a simple, progressive process. Read Luke 11:5-10. (1) “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you . . for everyone that asks receives.” Asking is an elementary step for a life that desires God’s best. Jesus said, “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Read Matthew 6:8-13. Prayer is the process of uncovering your real needs and discovering God as their true source of supply. Asking is not to persuade God to be benevolent; asking prepares you to be receptive.

(2) “And I say to you . . seek, and you will find . . he who seeks, finds.” There is a natural progression in your earnest pursuit of God that is both purposeful and passionate. Here the element of effort is included. As you persist, the Spirit examines your true desires and faith. Of yourself, what are you willing to give, or give up, in your quest for God?

(3)“And I say unto you . . knock, and it will be opened unto you . . to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” A further progression of spiritual intensity involves the element of perseverance. Persevere in prayer and faith; if you can be distracted or discouraged, you will be. “And you will seek Me and find Me when you will search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13.  This is Jesus’ reasoning, “If you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

David’s personal affirmation and expectation was, “You are my God; earnestly I seek You . . My soul will be satisfied!” Psalm 63:1/5 NIV. The soul which is content and confident in God will be satisfied with God.

Today, my prayer for you is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly, whatever sacrifice that requires.

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Perspective and Perseverance

December 5th, 2012

God doesn’t originate everything that touches your life but He does orchestrate every outcome.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” James 1:12 NAS.

You want the trial of faith to be over. You want out of there, but the situation is beyond your control and has to run its course. Such moments and experiences leave you few, if any, other options. Perseverance would rarely be your first choice. It takes too long, involves too much effort, and can hurt too badly. Maybe you are going through something like that right now. There are times in your life when you just have to persevere. See Ephesians 6:18 NKJV.

Your first choice, like mine, will be for self-preservation not perseverance. You will want God to protect you from such difficult, demanding situations. And a lot of times, many of them unknown to you, God does protect you from trying times, things, and people. Sometimes, God mercifully gives you a way of escape. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV. And He can deliver you – smoothly and suddenly. When He does not, He will be with you! “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV.

Be careful that your way out is in God’s will and at God’s time, not the result of your begged indulgence from Him. It may be that if you whine and beg long enough and loud enough, God may permit you an escape before that was best for you. That will only mean that some day after that you will find yourself in a similar fix, and be none the wiser and no better prepared for it to end well. Lessons not learned and growth experiences cut short at your request will be revisited – and rarely more comfortably or conveniently later.

Here’s the better way, because it is God’s way. Stay where you are, until God has done all that He wants to accomplish in you. He does not originate everything that touches your life – especially times and things hard and painful – but He does orchestrate every outcome. That makes it worth standing fast with trust and grace. “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good . . from the every beginning, God decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son.” Romans 8:28-29 The Message.

You more easily persevere when you keep a Godly perspective. This is a good paraphrase, “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” James 1:12 The Message. Trials can and will be difficult meanwhile, but hold promised blessing when you persevere. Job kept perspective in great suffering and loss; Daniel did in a frightening lions’ den; Paul did in a prison cell; John did while exiled on a prison island; Jesus did that on a cross, for you. See Hebrews 12:2-4 NIV. “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity. .” for you to trust and persevere. James 1: 2-4 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you hold tightly to Jesus and find His grace sufficient.

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