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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 1:9-11’

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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Unceasing Prayer

February 24th, 2014

“We have not stopped praying for you.” Colossians 1:9 NIV.

Prayer commits enduring seeds of amazing possibilities into the eternal purposes of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unceasing prayer.”

There are many things you can do for others – acts of kindness, encouragement, words of counsel, practical assistance – but there is nothing more helpful or effective than praying for another person. You are only able to help another person within the limits of your awareness and understanding, limited resource, or in observable needs. But what of needs unseen or unsaid?

There are times when you want to help a person, and would help if you only knew how. In such times, I suggest you pray for them. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us . . the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will . . The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV/ James 5:16 NLT. Prayer is a way that you can touch another’s life beyond your normal reach.  When you pray, you invite God to do what you cannot.

Ambiguous prayers are not likely to have powerful results. The Apostle Paul was faithful and direct in his prayers because he knew the value of others’ prayers for him, “As you help us by your prayers . . many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11 NIV. See also Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Paul was steadfast in praying because he knew what his prayers could accomplish, “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom . .” Colossians 1:9 NIV.

Notice that Paul was, “asking God,” not demanding of God. Prayer is not pressuring God; nor is it a passive assumption of what will be will be. Prayer is the sincere expression of your heart’s desire for God’s best for another, realizing that you may not always know the best that God has for them,  but He does. Notice also that Paul did, “not stop praying.” There are crisis occasions necessitating prayer, but more generally, there is need for continuing prayer.

Prayer commits enduring seeds of amazing possibilities into the eternal purposes of God. John had a vision of the Throne of God where those worshipping, “. . held gold bowls filled with incense – the prayers of God’s people . . and the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended before God from the angel’s hands.” See Revelation 5:7-8 NLT/8:3-4 NKJV. Prayers remain ever upon the heart of God. The impact of prayer is not always visible or immediate. Prayers do not expire by clock or calendar; they are eternal! “Pray without ceasing . . this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV.

When you do not know how to pray for someone, pray as Paul did for those he loved. Prayer touches God’s heart and changes others for the better when prayer asks God for, “knowledge of His will, wisdom, and understanding, a life pleasing to God, fruitfulness and growth in good works, patiently enduring with God’s strength, and a joyful, thankful life in God.” Read Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. See also Philippians 1:9-11 NIV/2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will value the promise and practice of prayer.

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Profit and Loss

February 20th, 2013

 “I consider everything a loss compared to . .  knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV.

Don’t settle for what is merely acceptable; require of yourself what is admirable.

A business owner only knows how well or how poorly they are doing after considering both their profits and losses. It’s pretty simple really; everything is either a profit or a loss. It is very important to understand which is which. I think the same is true of life. Socrates, a Greek philosopher (469-399 BC), said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

The Apostle Paul examined his life, concluding, “everything [else is] a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV.  Spiritually, he understood profit and loss. Paul evaluated his best efforts and good works, “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with Him.” Vs. 7-9 NLT.

You have to turn loose of the stuff you don’t need. Found written in a martyred missionary’s diary, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which cannot lose.” Paul understood this important principle, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial . . not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV. Don’t settle for what is merely acceptable; require of yourself what is admirable. Can you identify areas of your life that are either profitable or loss to you, or a mixture of both?

Life is about profit and loss; examination differentiates between those. Some losses are short term; others are long term. Long term losses are unaffordable. With profits, you should apply yourself where those continue to return welcome dividends for a lifetime. For me, habits and friendships come first to mind. Habits that add to your well-being are profitable; habits that don’t are neutral at best or harmful at worst. The earlier in your life that you choose and solidify beneficial habits, the better your life will be. Actually, you are the product of the habits you allow, some established in your youngest years. Some of those will serve you well; others could cost you dearly.

Whatever good habits may cost you in the short term – in the manner of commitment, discipline, time, effort, or sacrifice – is a small price to pay for what becomes an enduring investment. Personal and spiritual disciplines are not produced by whim. Deferred satisfaction is the product of hard choices requiring daily reinforcement. Critically essential habits are those that nurture spiritual growth and development such as: prayer, fasting, Bible Study, Scripture memorization, Bible meditation, Christian fellowship, giving, and serving. Read 2 Peter 2:2-9 NKJV. Those practices are profitable. “I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 JBPhillips.

Friendships also have to be weighed as to their value. The more prayerfully and carefully you choose the friendships you cultivate, the richer your life can be. If you merely accumulate acquaintances as the years pass, you may find later in life that they can be an unexplainable mixture of both profit and loss. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV.Conversely, good company encourages good character.

Some relationships can imperceptibly diminish the best in you, until your unnoticed loss is no longer ignorable. A person really is known by the company they keep. I was taught to choose friends whose example inspired me to be better. My dear friend, Don, reminded me that I once thanked him, “for not letting me be what I would have been without you.” That would be equally true because of my family, friends, and church we served. Nor can I imagine my life without Jesus. For Him, I want to be profitable in others’ lives as many have been in mine.

My prayer for you this day is: recognize what blesses your life; avoid what hinders.   

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Collectors of Clutter

October 3rd, 2012

“Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles.” Hebrews 12:1 NAS.

To keep life orderly and purposeful, discernment and discrimination are important.

My thoughts and comments today are about “collectors of clutter.”

Clutter happens. Life should be simple but can become complicated; life should be rather basic but can easily become cluttered. My home office/study is a good example. Over recent years, it has become a consolidation of too much from several previous church offices. Bringing what I had accumulated but not taking time to “sort it out,” I just put stuff wherever it would fit. I promised myself, “Another day, I will sort through it all.” On that day, I would put useful things where they could be useful. But that day never came; not sure when, or if, it will.

Along the way, I never made time to clean out the clutter; I only continued to add to it. What resulted? Most everything is some place in my office but probably in the wrong place, and I really do not know what is where, so much of what I have in my office is not useful; it’s just stored clutter. At the time, I guess I thought I needed it all. I have realized the clutter is from my confusion between what I have and what I really need. Life can be like that. People become collectors of clutter. Everything and everyone in your life cannot have equal importance. To keep life orderly and purposeful, discernment and discrimination are important.

A clutter of “things” is more obvious – but maybe worse is a clutter of busyness in your schedule, or emotional baggage you carry into every relationship, or old habits you indulge, or procrastinated obedience to the will of God, or out of date opinions about others, or promises to God, yourself, and others not yet kept, or good intentions not followed through. Those are the collections of clutter you cannot afford to allow and indulge. This Biblical principle is more about the internal and less visible areas where we can indulge needless and unprofitable clutter. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV. That’s Godly advice you will be wise to heed.

The Bible says, “Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of faith.” Hebrews 12:1 NAS. For life to be all that God intends it to be, there are things you have to lay aside. Consider some matters God calls sin. Sin ensnares and entangles you in things with which you have no reason to get involved. I heard a pastor describe sin’s entanglements this way, “Sin will take you further than you meant to go, and sin will keep you longer than you meant to stay, and sin will cost you more than you thought you’d pay.” I find that warning no exaggeration.

And there are things that are not sins but still are unworthy of a Christ-follower. An encumbrance is not necessarily wrong, but it also may not be useful. Paul observed, “All things are lawful, but all things are not profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NAS. Some things may appear desirable to you but might not be profitable for you or others; those are called encumbrances – stuff you carry along that only makes your progress slower and more difficult, or could even hinder the growth of another. “That those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:8 NIV. When in doubt, choose the profitable.

Is today a good day to clear some of the clutter? I say “Amen” to Paul’s prayer, “So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and prize and approve what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless . . [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble.”] Philippians 1:9-11 Amplified.

My prayer for you today is that you are wise enough to recognize what is of real value.

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Prayer Seeds

November 17th, 2011

“We have not stopped praying for you.” Colossians 1:9 NIV

“Your prayers are continuing seed sown into the purposes of God.”

My thoughts today are about “prayer seeds.”

There are many things that you can do for others – acts of kindness, words of counsel and advice, encouragement, practical assistance – but there is nothing more helpful or effective than praying for another person. You are only able to help another person within the limits of your awareness and understanding, limited resource, or in observable needs. But what of needs unseen or unsaid?

There are times when you want to help a person, and would help if you only knew how. Let me suggest that you pray for them. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will . . The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV/ James 5:16 NLT. Prayer is a way that you can touch another’s life beyond your normal reach. When you pray, you ask God to do what you cannot.

General and ambiguous prayers are not likely to have powerful result. The Apostle Paul was faithful and direct in prayer because he knew the value of others’ prayers for him, “As you help us by your prayers . . many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11 NIV. See also Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Paul was steadfast in praying because he knew what his prayers could accomplish, “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to . .” See Colossians 1:9-12 NIV.

Notice that Paul was “asking God,” not telling God! Prayer is not your invitation to pressure or insist of God; neither is it a passive assumption of what will be will be. Prayer is the sincere expression of your heart and desire for God’s best for another, realizing that you may not always know the best that God has for them. Notice also that Paul did “not stop praying.” There are crisis occasions necessitating prayer, but more generally, there is need for continuing prayer.

Prayers are the continuing seed sown into the purposes of God for the accomplishment of amazing possibilities. John wrote of a vision of the Throne of God where those worshiping there, “held gold bowls filled with incense – the prayers of God’s people . . the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended before God from the angel’s hands.” See Revelation 5:7-8 NLT/8:3-4 NKJV. Prayers of faith and submission to God’s will have no expiration date; they remain ever upon the heart of God.

When you do not know how to pray for someone, pray as Paul did for those he loved. See Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. Prayer that touches God’s heart and changes others for the better includes: knowledge of God’s will with understanding, a life pleasing to God, fruitfulness and growth in good works, patiently enduring with God’s strength, and a joyful and thankful life in God. See also Philippians 1:9-11 NIV/2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will value the practice of prayer.

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