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Direction, Distractions, and Diversions

September 8th, 2017

Distractions create diversions to a course not envisioned.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 KJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Direction, Distractions, and Diversions.”

Life needs direction – a worthy goal to reach and a path to reach that goal. For that direction, you need God. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT. And life can be full of distractions. Even God cannot direct your path if you allow yourself to become distracted.

A firm and clear direction minimizes distractions. David’s direction was unequivocal, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV. That is a Holy direction that can last a lifetime, and reaches into eternity. Most of the time distractions are usually of little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention was one of personal urgency and importance? Distractions, even those that are small and brief, lead to diversions that can set your life on an unintended path. Distractions create diversions toward a course not envisioned.

The sincerest decision and most vital direction can be supplanted by even a minor distraction. Because there is so much that you should do, and so much that you could do, there will always be moments that misdirect you along another path, away from the task at hand. Diversions are inevitable. Be prepared for them. Something more attracting and enticing will beckon your attention. All too easily, the best of  intentions can be displaced.

Later in life, individuals find themselves in a far different place than they planned. Where did they take a wrong turn? What decision changed their destination? Or maybe it was a curiosity that became a fascination indulging experimentation, which slowly became a habit and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. Paul was wise when he wrote, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV. Permissible does not mean advisable.

There is no diversion that is more important than your decision to pursue God earnestly. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do,” then consolidated three necessities of that singular passion. “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. Similarly, the Bible offers multiple, practical characteristics for your single-minded pursuit of God.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2 NKJVHeaven is real and eternity is sure.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3 NKJV.  Hold fast to the faith that in difficult times will hold you fast.

Be earnest about prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.James 5:17 NKJV. Effective fervent prayer has the power to change anything.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way, [the way of love].” 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV.

The world, with its deceitful pleasures, is full of distractions. If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see Jesus’ life and love in you. May this worthy goal be yours and mine. “We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and Godly sincerity.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be earnest about all aspects of spiritual life.

Christian Communications 2017

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Upward and Onward

December 16th, 2016

Your direction is governed by your spiritual passion

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Luke 12:34 NIV

My thoughts and comments today urge you upward and onward.”

In life, you will make numerous directional decisions. Those decisions touch your future in ways you will not foresee. In such moments, it is important that you consider your choices carefully. Seek counsel with others who know you, as well as have your confidence in their consistency of knowing God, His Word, and His ways. And of primary importance, always seek God’s wisdom for all that you and they cannot know. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all.” James 1:5 TEV. God and His Word have all the wisdom and knowledge life will require.

Some people come to such moments of decision and become stuck. Due to indecision about what to do or which way to go, some go nowhere. Indecision is always a wrong decision. In such a situation, and with an entire nation relying on his leadership, Joshua received God’s counsel and it remains good counsel for you. “Do not turn from [God’s Word] to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth . . so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful . . for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 NIV. 

Life is not ultimately determined by which path you follow, as much as it is that you are careful to know and do what God says along your journey. Then the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Better to be on any path with God than a right path without Him. More frequently, the challenge you will face is whether to go on or turn back – whether to move forward in faith or retreat to surroundings more safe and familiar.

Experiencing the disappointment of a companion who turned back, he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world more.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. Read John’s advice, 1 John 2:15-17 NKJV. Since your new life is in Christ, the world is behind you; keep it there. Keep moving upward and onward as God wills. Jesus was clear about following Him, “No one after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 NAS.

It’s simple logic. You won’t make much progress if you are always looking over your shoulder fondly for where you’ve been. The Bible praises those who left behind everything to follow God, “If their attention had been filled with thoughts of where they had been, they would have found a way to go back there. But they were looking for a better place . .” Hebrews 11:15-16 (my paraphrase). I love the effect and reward of such a person’s passion for God, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a [heavenly place] for them.”

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But 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 3:12-14 NIV. Your direction is governed by your spiritual passion. “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You.” Psalm 63:8 AMP.

Today, I pray for you is to never settle for less than God’s highest and best.

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The Process of Progress

September 16th, 2014

“Old things have passed away; all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.

Exchanging the expendable for the expedient is the process of progress.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the process of progress.”

Life is a process of perpetual change. It is a delusion that things can remain as they were or are. They never do, nor should they. Paul envisioned the boundless intention of God for your spiritual development while warning of the tragedy of stunted development, “Until we all come . . to a [maturing] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we be should no longer be children . . but may grow up in all things into Christ.” Ephesians 4:13-15. Anything less is inadequate and unworthy of the grace God has shown to your life. Progress is not at all sudden; it is deliberate and incremental.

SIGN 2 (3)

Growing is natural; remaining the same is not. Without necessary change there would be no process for progress. If your life remained static, you would be less than you could and should be. I often reflect on the unconstrained potential that redemption restores to any and everyone who comes to Christ in faith. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12 KJV. What expansive potential is held in those words, “given the power to become.” What you become in Christ has so much to do with your choices and desire. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

John later wrote, “We are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when Jesus comes, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.” 1 John 3:2 NLT. Now the power of the Spirit is at work in you until the day the transformation into Christ-likeness is complete.

There are elements of your Christian life that are accomplished, finished works of grace. Yet there are also dimensions of Christian life that continue in the process of your becoming less of what you were and more than you had ever been. When you have done all that you are to do, God has not yet completed all that He will do. Read Philippians 3:12-14 NIV. You and I remain a glorious work in progress. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV.

Paul wrote, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Wonderful, new things await you in Christ, being released as you willingly relinquish your old ways. Meditate on Ephesians 4:21-32.

Redemption occurs in a moment of transformation; Christ-likeness is a lifelong process of conformation. Read Romans 8:28-29 NIV. Writing about his Christian liberties, Paul said, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV. Exchanging the expendable for the expedient is the process of progress.

Today, my prayer for you is to never accept the good as a substitute for God’s best.

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Be Exemplary

June 24th, 2014

“In everything, set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7 NIV.

Be exemplary; follow Christ fully and consistently.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “be exemplary.”

Mistakes. Everyone makes them. You can learn from mistakes, yours and others. In fact, you should learn from your mistakes; if you don’t, you are destined to repeat them. It’s best if you learn to minimize the number of mistakes you make, especially the ones you seem to repeat. However, there is a better way. You can and should learn from the example and instruction of others. The example of others can teach you what to do right, as well as what to avoid.

The Apostle Paul was bold to say, “Pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Philippians 3:17-18 NLT. There are plenty of opportunities if you are willing to look, listen, and learn from the example and experience of others – valuing their successes while avoiding their failures. Read 1 Corinthians 10:6-13 NIV.

I count myself as fortunate. Across my lifetime, God has sovereignly placed Godly examples in my life. I still have plenty of room for improvement but I am far better than I would have been without them. Regrettably, I have not always lived up to their standard, but I steadfastly value their experience and example. My goal is as Paul’s focus, “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me to be.”  Read Philippians 3:12-14 NLT.

From my Dad and Mom, I learned a lot about life and integrity in relationships and ministry. From spiritual fathers, I continue to learn about personal and spiritual disciplines and the sacred priority of marriage and family. From friends, I am learning about the importance and responsibilities of meaningful friendships. From pastoring those who entrusted their souls to my care, I continue to learn the sanctity and sacrifice of ministry.

I have a great debt to repay, which suggests another side to consider in this matter. Are you helping others learn from your experiences? Read 2 Thessalonians 3:7 NIV. Be exemplary. “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV. Those certainly were not intended as an exhaustive list you can check off and be done with it. Those are the elemental and essential qualities of spiritual life, upon which all other Godly behavior rests.

Spiritual growth rests solidly upon the fundamentals of practical, spiritual life. Without those you may work diligently on correct conduct apart from the underlying strength of Godly character that sustains such behavior. “God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory . . so that we may present everyone perfect in [their relationship with] Christ.” Colossians 1:27-28 NIV/NLT.

Apart from “Christ in you,” there can be no “hope of glory,” in the lives we live. Jesus left you a sure path to follow, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NIV. Be exemplary; follow Christ fully and consistently. Paul got it right, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is to be sure whose example you follow and who is following yours.

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Distractions and Diversions

September 18th, 2013

One thing I do . . I press toward . . the prize of the upward call of God.” Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

Be vigilant; the insistent threatens the important.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions and diversions.”

Life can easily misdirect priorities, unless you persist with diligence and purpose. If you have not experienced diversion in matters small or large, you will. You can begin with clarity of purpose, then become diverted by things that clamor for your attention, only to realize that you have lost direction. Life is often what happens while you were busy elsewhere. Remembering his own painful experience, Solomon offers wise counsel, Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked . .” Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT. Time and energy can be wasted on needless diversions.

I benefit from my Dad’s practical counsel, “Keep the main things the main thing!” Paul’s “main thing” was voiced in this determination, “That I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me . . one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. For everyone, there are three essential components, “forgetting, reaching, and pressing.” Paul knew who he was, who he wanted to be, and what diligence that would require of him. The same clarity must be true of you. Contemplate what “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” would be for your life.

Be vigilant; the insistent threatens the important. Keeping a clear focus is not always as easy as you might assume. Life can be distracting. “Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32-33 NKJV. Distraction results when the secondary usurps the place of the primary. Keep Jesus in the center.

Jesus asked a probing question, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” Read Matthew 8:34-37 NKJV. No man begins with the intention of losing his soul. Distractions and diversions exact a terrible price. With broken heart, Paul wrote this of his former companion, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. For a love that does not endure and cannot satisfy, Demas traded his destiny. The destroyer of your soul is the master of distractions and diversions. Do not be ignorant of his schemes. See 2 Corinthians 2:11 NLT. What he cannot take from you, he will tempt you to lay aside.

Are any of us safe? God never meant for you to live insecurely. “The temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so you will not give in to it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT. I am confident of God’s sufficiency and care.

His promise is this, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV. The word you hear is the Spirit’s affirmation of the Word you have hidden in your heart. See Psalm 119:9-11 NIV. The path of your success is simple: keep the Word of God foremost in your heart, listen to the Spirit of God devotedly, and be true to both unreservedly. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will be steadfast in your pursuit of God.

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