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Posts Tagged ‘prosper’

The Law of Return

February 13th, 2018

Life is reciprocal.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

 My thoughts and comments today are about, “the law of return.”

Life is not random, even though it occasionally appears to be. Life is reciprocal. It is important that you understand, “The Law of Return.” The principle is rather simple, but applies either positively or negatively. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed . . He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” Proverbs 11:24-27 NIV. What is not to understand? God’s heart and desire were clear to the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. God’s promises are fulfilled within the measure of your obedience.

Let me state the principle simply and in a practical way. You get what you give, not what you want or demand. What you do not give first you will not receive except as charity, however much you expect or insist otherwise. When you do the right things in the right way, the Creator’s loving touch and generosity can be seen everywhere. In far more instances than the exceptions, good things happen to people who do good things for others. That is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Good deeds reproduce good deeds. Good will responds to good will. Kind words are the response from kind words. Generosity creates gratitude. Conversely, inappropriate actions or unworthy attitudes result in a similar return. Be an example, a good one. Whatever you expect of others, demand even more of yourself. You are wise to heed the warning of God’s Word, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

Life is not as you deem it to be, or wish that it were. Life is established on God’s terms, and works accordingly. You might muscle your will and way for a while, but inevitably and ultimately life works the way the Creator determined it should. As in the beginning, God has spoken over His creation, “Let there be, and there was.” That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be. God established eternal laws and principles by which His world works.

Foolishly and to minimal or temporary effect, you and I may try to force life to work the way we would prefer, but all efforts which are contrary to His Word, will, and wisdom, are eventually to little avail. Your lasting success, enduring satisfaction, and eternal reward depend on your learning God’s ways and cooperating with those. Isaiah was clear when He echoed God’s declaration, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways..’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV. It is foolish pride to think that any of us are wiser than God, even in the matters of our own daily life.

Jesus stated the truth simply, practically, and clearly. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV. That has often been referred to as the Golden Rule. The principle of return works for your good or to your loss, depending on how you choose to cooperate with its practical truth. “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

And Jesus identifies Himself with others,“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45 NIV. Our regard, or lack of regard, for others impacts what God is able to do for us. That too is the Law of Return. God’s Word is true and His provision is unfailing, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

My prayer for you and those who follow your example is, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord.” Psalm 115:14-15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for your life to abound with God’s grace and benevolence.

Christian Communications 2018

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Health and Holiness

March 23rd, 2017

Care about eternal matters more than temporal

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health.”

3 John 2 NAS

My thoughts and comments today are about, “health and holiness.”

Recently, I had my Annual Wellness Checkup, as it was called by the doctor. It was overdue but ultimately reassuring. The practical wisdom of being more health conscious is undeniable, especially as you add years and miles. Living a healthier lifestyle by eating properly, exercising regularly, managing your weight, reducing stress and worry, getting enough rest, and having a medical check-up periodically makes good sense. You are wise to take care of your body. Doing so is a personal investment in your continued well-being and length of life. And I recommend, you are wise to take care of your soul.

Spiritual health impacts physical wellbeing. Deliberately attending to matters that contribute to your spiritual health and well-being is wise. John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NAS.  It is incongruous to prioritize your physical health which only benefits your lifetime, yet neglect your spiritual health which impacts eternity.  

Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Bodily exercise profits a little, but Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. Jesus’ question was direct, “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Mark 8:36-37 NLT. The question is clear; the answer is obvious.

Here are my practical suggestions for a Spiritual Wellness Checkup. What you need most is a good report from the Great Physician and Savior of man’s soul. Keep your mind clean and clear, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV. Walk in faith, “For it is impossible to please God without faith.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

Live gratefully, “In everything give thanks, this is the will of God concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV. Forgive generously; “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 NKJV. Pray instead of worry; “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6 NLT.

Choose trust above understanding; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not upon your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NKJV. Practice faithfulness for, “It is required of a steward that he is found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV. Pray frequently and fervently. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT. God’s Word is proven and productive for health and holiness. “Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to value and hold fast that which is eternal.

Christian Communications 2017

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Prosperity and Adversity

February 12th, 2016

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “prosperity and adversity.”

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son.”
“If” – Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

When I was a young teen, I questioned my Dad, a pastor, about a young husband and father I had admired in our congregation. He had such a heart for God and an expressed interest in ministry. He was personable, eloquent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and diligent. His natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry, until he experienced rapid and unexpected success in his construction business.

As he prospered, his plans adjusted as his interests, time, and attention shifted. I well remember his words, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” The first part of his goal was met and exceeded; the latter intention was neither attempted nor realized. My Dad’s response to my disappointment was specific, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s words. Adversity is difficult; prosperity can be deceptive. Be careful, riches will be deceitful. In His masterful and practical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and [a man] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. Both prosperity and adversity have unique hazards. In the best of times, you may easily forget your need of God’s daily provision; in the worst of times, you can incorrectly assume God will not meet your needs.

Uzziah was a young king of Judah who enjoyed great success during his fifty-two year reign. He beautified and fortified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. He was feared and respected by surrounding nations. His land was fruitful and his people prosperous. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV.

Ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped [by God] until he was strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 NKJV. Prosperity without humility and gratitude is destructive.

Far from the prideful height of acclaim, success, and sufficiency, Uzziah died a leper under the judgement of God, ostracized from others. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

Here is the simple truth Solomon understood, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV. The Apostle Paul gave invaluable advice, “Everywhere and in all things, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV. 

Today, I pray for you to “prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

Christian Communications 2016
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Limits and Liberties

July 25th, 2014

“Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us.”  2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT.

True success and happiness in life is to know and fulfill God’s boundaries.

Lauren, my thoughts and comments today are about “limits and liberties.”

“Fences make good neighbors.” (Mending Wall/ Robert Frost). Fences clarify both a person’s liberties as well as their limits, designating where you have free access and where others do not. In relationships, such fences are called boundaries. Some are determined by you; others are determined for you. People have boundaries that distinguish the public from the private, or should have.

Yours as well as others’ boundaries should be respected, but that doesn’t always happen. When someone pushes too closely into your personal space, or either shares or inquires about matters more personal than you prefer to discuss, their presumption of liberty intrudes beyond your limits. When that happens, you feel a measure of discomfort.

Almost twenty years ago, our family bought rural acreage where we would build our homes. Until then, I had been content to have my home nestled among others. But those acres soon gave me a sense of security and liberty I had not anticipated. The precisely measured survey and the visible fence line marked exactly where our boundaries were. This place was ours. Gayle named it “Heritage Place,” because we believe God provided it for our family.

God’s plan for your life is your “Heritage Place.” God said, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans to prosper and not harm you, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. True happiness, contentment, and even success is to know and fulfill the boundaries of God’s plan for your life. Accept nothing less than the liberties God provides; require nothing more than the limits God sets. See Galatians 5:13 NKJV. Your appreciation of Godly boundaries has everything to do with your knowledge and trust of the One who sets them. Your joyful acceptance depends on understanding their purpose is for your good not harm.

Inside God’s limits and liberties, life is expansive; outside of those, the consequence can be expensive. From painful experience, David learned the limits within God’s plan were better than the ill-conceived liberties of his own plans. David learned God’s ways are always best, “The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 NIV. To that, I say a hearty, “Amen!”

Paul’s objective should be ours, Our goal is to stay within the boundaries [proper limits] of God’s plan for us.2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT/NIV. Paul was committed to fulfill all God intended, while content not to reach beyond. Paul discovered that within God’s “proper limits,” he found confidence instead of confusion, fruitfulness rather than frustration, and anointing beyond his abilities and efforts. And so will you.

Today, my prayer for you is to rejoice in liberties God affords and respect limits He requires.

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Meanwhile

August 15th, 2012

“If [where you are] prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7 NIV

God will both direct and use circumstances to mold your heart and will to His own.

My thoughts and comments today are about “meanwhile.”

A few days ago, I said a tearful farewell to Don, a life-long friend. He walked with grace and courage through four of the toughest years imaginable. Multiple times doctors said he would not live; multiple times God sustained him in ways not explainable. It was not where he wanted to be, but being there, he walked with God with a dignity and trust that was exemplary. Meanwhile, he learned to live fully, worshipping and serving God in spite of his suffering and physical limits. Alongside him, I learned about God’s will and true courage, about being your best in the worst of times. I love what a friend wrote upon hearing of his death, “He fought a battle with cancer; he finally won!” Indeed he did.

Life, even for the best of people, is not always simple and easy. Life is not one grand sweep of blissful time; it consists of a myriad of moments which are working together in the purpose and providence of God to conform you to the image of Christ. See Romans 8:28-29 NKJV. God will both direct and use circumstances to mold your heart and will to His own. There are occasions when you are in times and places by the will of God that you would not choose. What you do in those times shapes who you are and the extent to which the purposes of God can be worked out in your life. Your comfort is not first priority. In those moments, you might ask God for deliverance that may not come when you want, nor as you like. At those times, it is critical that you know God well and trust Him and His ways absolutely. Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV.

Israel found themselves in Babylon as captives. All they wanted was to return to Jerusalem, the sooner the better. In their distress, they preferred prophets with reassuring words. You can always find people to say what you want to hear. Through Jeremiah, God told Israel, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce . . seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you . . pray to the Lord for it, because if [where you are] prospers, you too will prosper . . therefore, build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” Jeremiah 29:6- 7/28 NIV. In confusing times, you need people who will tell you what you need to hear, and you need to hear what God says. You can blame or build; you can pout or prosper; you can wait or work. Meanwhile does not feel like a good time, but in the will of God it is the best of times.

That is not what they wanted to hear, but it was what they needed to hear. God was working on their behalf and for their good, even if they could not see that yet. See Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. God is as committed to your well-being in difficult circumstances as in the best of times. Read those verses again, slowly and carefully. You won’t escape every unpleasant circumstance on your preferred schedule, but you can make your situation, and yourself, better in the meanwhile. God has not forgotten you, nor will His love fail you. God always answers prayer; His answer may not be the answer you were wanting. Meanwhile, what you do makes all the difference in who you become.

My prayer for you today is that you live every moment to the fullest measure.

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