Posts Tagged ‘progress’

Loving Discourse Lessens Discord

June 12th, 2018

Communication enables mutual understanding.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

My thoughts and comments today consider that, “loving discourse lessens discord.”   

Kind and sincere communication is a gift that we give to one another. Communication connects and unifies people. I love a simple, beautiful verse: “Grace is poured upon Your lips.” Psalm 45:2 NKJV. What would your life and relationships look like if grace poured from your lips? Loving discourse lessens discord. In contrast, our world is so torn because individuals persist in being right, however high the price is paid in their dearest relationships. Whether in a marriage, family, friendship, or church, the relationship is left the victim when loving communication breaks down.

Sadly and widely, both public and private discourse seem course today, evidencing less and less grace. Why do we choose dispute over concurrence? Conversations are essential for social interactions and profitable commerce. Communication enables effective collaboration to bring about mutually beneficial understandings. The interaction that communication requires is not optional. Sincere and meaningful communication offers significant benefits such as: proper discourse unifies people, decides purpose, defines progress, and produces greater achievements. Real community is possible only to the extent or limitation of real discussions.

Language is a gift, possessing the power to unite or divide us. A wise person considers their words. Words have potential for good or ill, can help or hurt, heal or wound, increase understanding or create confusion. Your words are always within your authority to speak or remain silent. Speak after forethought and prayerful reflection. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” Proverbs 15:1-2 NIV.

With clarity and authority, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Read Proverbs 4:20-24 NIV. Ask yourself, “Are my words honestly intended, edifying to others, and glorifying to God.”

With King David, we should pray from our heart that our words and thoughts would be these, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. And how can we keep our words and thoughts pleasing in the sight of God and others? Pray as David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV.

Today I pray for you to choose your words to always be both true and kind.

Christian Communications 2018

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Direction and Distractions

September 6th, 2016

Once again, I ask for your patience. About 15% of EDL readers had this devotional “returned to sender” through a technical error, which we believe has been corrected. Therefore, I am resending “Direction and Distractions” (from Friday, September 2). Thank you for your patience with our “technical difficulties.”

A dear friend, whose technical expertise I do not possess, has worked diligently to correct this. His contribution at the earliest days of EveryDay Life and his continued help across these nine years of publishing EDL, has been invaluable. Without his help we could not have reached those of you who receive EDL today. I am grateful for his encouragement.

For those receiving “Direction and Distractions” for the first time today, could you do me a favor? Would you simply hit “reply” and I will know that the mailing problem has been resolved. Also, it is possible that you may not have received “Clocks and Calendars” (Wed 8/24) and “Wisdom” (Tue 8/30). At the website, you can read those if you have not received them. Blessings!

Life without purpose and direction is pointless.

“As for God His way is perfect. The Lord’s Word is flawless.” 2 Samuel 22:31 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “direction and distractions.”

It is easy to lose your way. I remember visiting a family in an unfamiliar neighborhood. As I left their home, I made a wrong turn. Not realizing I was headed the wrong way, I continued to a dead end. I assumed I knew which way to go, but now I was confused. I was wandering in an unfamiliar area of town. I did not know what to do, except to retrace my path and start over. Sometimes, life feels like that too.

You can begin with a sense of purpose and direction, but along the way distractions and disturbances can misdirect you, often without your notice. Things that once seemed more obvious to you become more obscure; answers you once knew yield to disconcerting questions; your projected plans appear less certain or even possible. Going in circles keeps you busy but takes you nowhere. To have meaning, life must have purpose; if your life is aimless, it will be pointless. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV.

By might and miracles, God delivered Israel from Egypt. Their path was clear; their destination sure. Until somewhere on their way to Canaan, a fruit-filled, bountiful land, they were content going in circles. Along the way, they lost their way. Then God said, “You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn northward.” Deuteronomy 2:3 NLT. It was time for them to stop wandering and proceed forward into God’s purpose for their deliverance from Egypt. When you forget your purpose you lose your sense of direction. Read Romans 8:28 NIV. When you find yourself making no progress, you are wandering. Here’s a few realities I have learned from life.

You can get lost when you aren’t paying attention. Inattention to where you are and which direction you are going can leave you confused, wandering and wondering how you got where you are and how you can know where you should. Jesus frequently warned, “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand.” Mark 4:23 NLT. If you aren’t listening to God every day, listening for His voice in every situation, you are likely to be lost.

You can become lost when you follow bad counsel. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly . . the counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart [are] to all generations.” Psalm 1:1/33:11 NKJV. See Proverbs 12:15 NIV. Be careful who you follow. If your destination is not where they are going, don’t walk where they are walking. If you don’t want to become like them, you shouldn’t be walking with them.

You will get lost when you insist on your own way. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death . . but as for God His way is perfect. The Lord’s Word is flawless” Proverbs 16:25 NIV/2 Samuel 22:31 NIV. God’s way is always better than your way. Any individual who thinks otherwise is unwise. Read Isaiah 55:6-11 NKJV. I am grateful for the times God did not give me what I insisted on having, nor allow my continuing the way I was going.

You are never lost whenever you are where God wants you to be. In His will, doing His will is the only place to be. God can and will use you, but only where He directs you.

Today, I pray for you to follow the One who declares, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

EDL trust Prov 3.5-6











Christian Communications 2016

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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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A Preferred Future

November 20th, 2013

“Focusing all my energies on this one thing . . looking forward.” Phil 3:13 NLT.

In God, your preferred future is unencumbered by your history.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a preferred future.”

I have a common sense rule about driving. Your car should not move in a direction other than where you are presently looking. Failure to do so can result in an accident you did not intend. I remember a time I ignored my common sense rule. I assumed I did not need to be looking the direction I was going; I was very wrong. In the middle of an empty parking lot, I backed into the concrete base of a light pole. Those serious scuffs remained on my bumper as a practical reminder.

Life is also like that. Life does not work the way it should, unless you are looking where you intend to go. Painful experiences of the past distract attention from your future. Unsuccessfully, many people attempt progress while weighed down emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually from past choices and foolish mistakes. Your past can become your prison, diminishing present possibilities and pushing potential further from your achievement. Bring your history to Jesus in humility and sincerity.

Who does not have regrets? Moses regretted his anger and impetuous action, requiring he flee from Pharaoh. David regretted his deceit and adultery. Paul sorely regretted his pursuit and persecution of Christ-followers, later writing, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” See 1 Timothy 1:12-17 NKJV. Peter regretted his shameful denial of Jesus; in repentance, Peter found forgiveness. In remorse for his betrayal of Jesus, Judas destroyed himself. The effect of your history – for better or worse – depends on whether you will trust God with all of it.

Every day and with every attitude, action, and choice you are defining your future. Is it the future you prefer or one crafted by random occurrence? God has a preferred future for you. Don’t let your history prevent you from experiencing God’s best today and tomorrow.

Certainly, acknowledge your past – both failures and successes, mistakes and accomplishments, hurts and happinesses – but don’t dwell there. Dwelling on what is unchangeable results in undesirable symptoms, such as unrelenting discouragement, regrets, guilt, inconsolable grief, or diminished confidence. In God, your preferred future can be unencumbered by your history.

From his personal example, Paul gave wise, practical counsel, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ is calling us up to Heaven.” Phil 3:13-14 NLT. Read those words again, thoughtfully. In them, I see simple but practical requirements for successful progress: singular focus, relinquishment of the unprofitable, anticipation of a preferred future, diligence and unrestrained effort, and Godly objective. Does your life demonstrate those traits?

Progress requires focus. Forward is the wise direction for your focus, if you plan to go somewhere more than where you have already been. Forward momentum is diminished by lack of focus and loss of direction. Denying reality doesn’t work so well; learn from the past but then move forward. Ask God’s forgiveness and accept His redemption, and press forward in grace. God’s future for you is preferred, every time. See Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will trust God with both your history and future.

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Errors and Faults

October 11th, 2013

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12 NKJV.

Good friends can help you; God’s Word will guide you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “errors and faults.”

Mistakes are a part of life, made by imperfect people in an imperfect world. “No one can see his own errors; deliver me, Lord, from hidden faults! Keep me safe, also, from willful sins.” Psalm 19:12-13 TEV. Try to avoid mistakes when possible, manage them when they occur, and always learn from them because you will make others. May your mistakes be small, quickly remedied, and cause no loss to you or others.

Let me share a few practical things I have learned from mistakes, which I admit have not been infrequent. Serving in a conspicuous and public position, my errors of judgment have not gone unnoticed, but thankfully have usually been viewed with understanding – even grace and forgiveness from God and people. Mistakes are not permanent or final unless you allow them to be.

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Fearing mistakes is the surest way to make one. You will make mistakes, small and large. No one can prevent every mistake, but you should be clear about obvious choices of right and wrong. “Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. Better that your mistakes are errors of judgment, rather than failure of character. Character failures are far worse.

Admit your mistakes. Why try to hide them? That never works well. See Proverbs 28:13-14 NLT. Remove any pretension that you are incapable of making them. A mistake is rarely any surprise to those who know you well, and doesn’t typically matter to those who don’t. Failure to admit your mistake is a vain attempt to preserve an illusion that you are incapable of being wrong. Sadly, that is not true of any of us. Why waste valuable time acting as though it is? The quickest way to correct an error is to recognize it, learn, and move on.

Learn from your mistakes. It is said that mistakes are often the price of progress. “Learn from science. In science mistakes always precede the discovery of truth.” Author William Saroyan. It is not how few or many mistakes you make that matters; it is how few or many times you make the same mistakes again. Learn from your failures so as not to repeat them. Good friends will help you; God’s Word will guide you. Read Psalm 119:9-11 NKJV. Welcome honest input from others you trust, valuing their objectivity, experience, and advice. See Proverbs 19:20-21 NIV. No one can make decisions for you, but the best decisions will include wise counsel. See Proverbs 11:14 NKJV.

Mistakes always cost somebody something. Limit them when you can, and correct them quickly when they occur. Don’t be cavalier about your own mistakes as though they don’t matter; they matter to someone. If you depreciate their seriousness, you will not be as careful to avoid them. Be more generous with others’ mistakes than you allow for your own. Don’t be casual about them. Humility and honesty are the best way forward.

My prayer for you today is that you learn from your mistakes and rise above every failure.

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