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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 3:13’

Priority, Passion, and Purpose

March 29th, 2017

 

Desire determines your direction

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.

My thoughts today are about, “priority, passion, and purpose.”

You will seek what is important to you. Time and priority evidence your values. I met my wife, Gayle, in the Spring of my second year of college. I sought every opportunity to be where she was. As she became increasingly important to me, I made time and sought occasion to enjoy her company. I sought to be with her as much as I could. I pursued her favor. Soon, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. And, as they say, the rest is history. Passion settles priority. God is not elusive, but seeking Him necessitates an undivided heart and singleness of mind.

Saul became Israel’s choice as their first King, but he was not God’s choice. Saul was impressive. The Bible described Him as, “head and shoulders over all the men of Israel.” 1 Samuel 10:23 NLT. But there was a problem the people could not see, but God did. Eventually, “God replaced [Saul as King of Israel] with David, a man about whom God said, ‘David, son of Jesse, is a man after My own heart, for he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 NLT. God’s explanation was simple and direct, “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.

In David, God found a God-seeking heart. David wrote, “One thing I have desired of the Lord; this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4 NIV. Do you want to have a heart like David’s? In this verse, David provided three practical keys.

[1] Recognize the power of priority. David determined, “One thing I ask of the Lord.” Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV. If you seek too many things you may miss the One that is most essential. Knowing the Lord is primary; all other things are secondary. Priority eliminates competition.

[2] Develop a purity of passion. David had a singular devotion, “I have desired of the Lord.” What do you really want your life to be about? What do you value above all else? Desire determines your direction. Jesus said, “the first and great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Matthew 22:37 NKJV. When you establish your passion, you will know where to invest your energies, and commit your abilities, and give your best effort. When seeking God is your great passion, your search governs your attention and direction. God promised, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.

[3] Preserve a singularity of purpose. David was clear, “This is what I seek.” Avoid distraction. “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13 NIV. Purpose decides what you should do and what you should not. When other things are alluring, remember your purpose. “Anyone who comes to God must believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. God will be found of you.

Today I pray for you to be clear about the desire and direction of your life.

Christian Communications 2017

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Decisions and Destiny

February 10th, 2015

“Keeping your eyes on Jesus, on whom your faith depends.” Hebrews 12:2 NLT.

Focus directs desire; desire decides direction; direction determines destiny.

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

After near mishaps, my wife, Gayle, and I agreed on a simple practice: “An automobile should never be moving in a direction the driver is not looking.” The simple principle of focus eliminates so much regret. Breaking my own rule one day, when I was distracted and in a hurry, left a clear reminder on the back bumper of my car. I backed into the concrete base of a light pole in a parking lot. Rest assured; too late, I looked in the direction of my abrupt stop. But the damage was already done.

That seems a good lesson for life as well. You need never finish where you did not intend to be. First, determine which direction you ought to go, and then direct your focus and energies there. You will be drawn in the direction you are looking. Focus directs desires; desire decides direction; direction determines destiny. Destiny does not happen by random chance; destiny is achieved according to God’s will and your confirmed choice. “In [Christ] . . being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Read Ephesians 1:11-12.

On more than one occasion, my friend, Campbell, reminded me, “The heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” Determine your focus and you will govern your desires, ambitions, and even your achievements. When you fail to do so, life does not work as well. Avoid distractions that misdirect your heart away from your goal. As David determined, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.” Psalm 57:7 NIV. Read Psalm 112:1-9 NIV.

People whose focus is on what is positive and possible are encouraged in those directions. Focus on what is negative and difficult and you are inextricably drawn that direction. My advice is that your life be forward looking and progressing onward; keep looking, expecting, reaching. Let nothing of yesterday keep you from anticipating today.

The Apostle Paul reduced your path to progress to just one simple thing. “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.” Philippians 3:13 NIV. Three activities combine as though one goal – forgetting, reaching toward, and pressing forward to a Godly objective. David understood the same principle. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek . .” See Psalm 27:4.

There is a qualifier for your success in life. It takes more than just focus; first, you have to have the right goal and then keep a fixed focus. Anything less than, “the high calling of Jesus Christ,” is just a misleading distraction. Life’s success comes by, “keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom your faith depends from start to finish.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT. Look around for encouragement; lay aside what encumbers your progress; be rid of all that entangles your advancement.

This is God’s wondrous promise, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. Now that is something in which you can trust and believe.

Today, my prayer for you is to understand that tomorrow is built on the foundations of this day.

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Godly Optimism

August 7th, 2013

“The plans I have for you [are] for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Optimism about the future is empty unless God is included there.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Godly optimism.”

In one’s life, a new season is exciting. You sense there is more, more ahead for you. Your heart and spirit is newly exhilarated. You know God is up to something, and it is going to be good. God, who is eternal, spans all of time. His plan encompasses what has already happened, what you are currently experiencing, and all that He has planned for your good. Read Romans 8:28-29. Nothing that has happened or is happening now will be wasted in God’s economy. In grace, God recycles anything that touches your life into something of blessing.

I recall a time when I began to feel God stirring in my heart. Gradually, a simple understanding clarified His instruction, “Purposefully position yourself, facing the future.” Your future is not foreboding; in God’s providence, your future is full of good things. “Surely God is good . . to those who are pure in heart.” Psalm 73:1 NIV. There was a corner to turn; a new season was ahead. Meanwhile, those words began to focus my plans and direct my efforts, motivating me to invest every effort and energy with expectation. See Philippians 3:13 NLT. Your future deserves priority and attention.

Really, that’s how life should be lived all the time, isn’t it? Optimism about the future is empty unless God is included there. “The plans I have for you [are] for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. Some are content to mark time, reliving their past, merely existing while overlooking a future with unlimited possibilities. “Purposefully positioning yourself, facing the future,” encourages an investment of your best effort, directs your full energies, and creates expectation. Life is different when you live with Godly optimism. See James 1:17-18NIV.

Live as Jesus lived, with an unwavering conviction, “I must be about My Father’s business.” Luke 2:49. That’s where joy, peace, fulfillment, and confidence are found. It isn’t about knowing everything the future holds; that is neither likely nor realistic. Your future is safe in God’s hand and plans. Expect good from His hands and not harm. Living fully in the moment is a posture of expectation. “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5 NIV.

You are not meant to worry about the future or be so preoccupied with what is yet unseen and unknown that you miss opportunities today. Today is ultimately about preparing yourself to fully inherit God’s future and intent for you. God wants to include you in His grand adventure. “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved . . Trust in Him at all times.” Psalm 62:5-8 NKJV.

It is easy to miss some measure of your future when you are a captive of the past or captivated in the moment. In God, all that has gone before is prelude for what is yet to be. Appreciate your history; enjoy every minute of this moment; but your future in view. Tomorrow, not yesterday, is where your greatest accomplishments and satisfaction still await.

My prayer for you this day is: have assurance of what God holds in His heart for you.

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Right Thing To Do

December 21st, 2011

“It would not be right for us . .” Acts 6:2 NIV

“The easiest or familiar is seldom the best or right thing.”

My thoughts today are about the “right thing to do.”

I am not thinking so much about things right or wrong, as I am about differentiating between the good and best. It is often said that “good is the enemy of the best.” Something may seem to be good enough but good enough will never accomplish what’s best. Your best is always the right thing to do.

There will always seem more than you have enough time, energy, or ability to do; that could be because there are some things you aren’t meant to do. A successful life is found in knowing what is yours to do and doing that well; a highly successful life is reserved for those who also know what they are not meant to do, and leave those things to others. The latter is more important than you may realize.

Success eventually requires hard choices. The very abilities, effort, energy, and focus that brings success in your endeavors can be stretched thin by a growing diversity of demands and expectations. When you are feeling the pressure to do more than you have time or ability to do, demands and deadlines will sometimes clarify what is “your business to do,” and what is none of your business.

The first century Church in Jerusalem grew so rapidly that the apostles could not keep up with everything that needed to be done. There was a problem no caring person would deny; some people were not being taken care of in an equitable manner as others were. For this to be done should something else be left undone? Wisely, the apostles in charge evaluated the problem as proper food distribution to both Greek and Hebrew widows – reaffirmed the priorities as prayer and the teaching of God’s Word – and made a choice both wise and practical; this is something that must be done but can be done by others. Always do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

Their reasoning? “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God to wait on tables. Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them . . this proposal pleased the whole group.” Acts 6:2-5 NIV. Life is better when you keep it clear and simple. The apostles recognized that the investment of themselves in what had arisen would mean their neglect of what was their priority. While you busy yourself doing what someone else could do, you miss what you should do. Every responsibility is not necessarily your responsibility. “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have neglected.” Song 1:6 NIV. Multi-gifted people are especially tempted in this area. Knowing how and when to say no is as important as being willing to say yes.

You are more effective when you are occupied with the things that are right for you – that best fit your skill-set and are within your Godly assignment. The easiest and familiar thing to do is seldom the best or right thing for you. Few of us are given the luxury of opportunity and authority to always do what we would prefer to do, nor should we. Effectiveness comes with focus; focus comes from priorities. That’s where you find the right thing for you. The Apostle Paul determined, “I am focusing all my energies in this one thing . .” Philippians 3:13 NLT. See Psalm 27:4 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you do what you know God has given you to do.

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Forget Something? Good!

December 31st, 2009

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13 NIV

Forgetting is often where healing happens, and only you can make it so.

My thoughts today ask, “Forget something? That’s a good thing!”

Forgetfulness is not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it is the best thing. There are things that you do not need to remember, things that only bring worry or pain, things for which you have no answer or explanation. Such things accumulate like so much trash, crowding out more profitable memories that edify and encourage. Do you ever remember what you should forget, and forget what you should remember?

In my home growing up, my chore was to take out the trash, and my Dad kept me reminded to do so. I guess I needed to hear a lot more, “Son, have you taken out the trash?” than my Dad should have needed to say. At our home now that is still one of my jobs. Every Friday is trash day. Newspapers and old mail are thrown away daily, but the garbage truck comes Friday morning, so Thursday after work is the time to gather all the things needing to be carried out and thrown away. My Dad taught me a valuable lesson about everyday life, whether or not that was his intent. I think life works better when you learn to take out the trash regularly.

Today is another New Year’s Eve. People across the globe will gather in private and public places to welcome in a new year. The world celebrates the end of each year in their wish for things being better in a New Year, different than they were. But wishing will not make that so. Things once done cannot easily be undone. The past can become a terrible prison where things hold you that you alone can no longer change.

The church gathers in homes or sanctuaries this New Year’s Eve, grateful to God that He has taken away the old mistakes and sins of our past, and given forgiveness and a new start in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, and all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5.17. Forgiveness without forgetting is not as freeing as God intends.

I love the story of Joseph. There was a lot of hurtful trash; some from his lack of wisdom, but much the family and others dumped on him. To survive and keep his dreams, Joseph had to learn how to take out the trash of his painful, unfair past. In Egypt, to Joseph was born two sons. Read Genesis 41:51-52 NIV. The first son, he named Manasseh, when he understood, “For God made me forget all my trouble.” Forgetting is often where healing happens. The second son, he named Ephraim, as he explained, “For God has made me fruitful in my suffering.” Counting your blessings is where celebrating begins.

Mistakes and mishaps, things you and others who may have said or done, may have shaped your appraisal of 2009, but you have the power of choice to greatly reshape a new year as God intends for you. A few days ago, a friend shared with me this Scripture for my new year, and now I give it to you, “His allowance was a continual allowance given him of the King, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.” 2 Kings 25:30 KJV. That’s what I pray for you everyday!

My prayer for you is: your review will see only good, and your expectation be for the best.

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