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Posts Tagged ‘purposes of God’

Profitable People

March 9th, 2017

Never overlook the treasure in an earthen vessel

“[Onesimus] once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.” Philemon 9

My thoughts and comments today are about “profitable People”

The bottom line for every business endeavor or financial investment is calculating the potential for profit and loss. If you only generate a loss, you are soon out of business. Without a profit, you have a hobby, not a business. Profit and loss is easy when adding or subtracting numbers in a spreadsheet or database. But life and relationships require more than data and numbers. Numbers are static; people are dynamic. In relationships, you are dealing with lives, not ledgers. Figuring profit and loss there is more complex, less plain and simple. Numbers are just what they are. People can become more than they were.  

In Paul’s New Testament letter to Philemon we are introduced to Onesimus, a runaway slave from Philemon’s home. To escape recapture and punishment, Onesimus fled to Rome where Paul was imprisoned. Whether by intention or divine appointment, he met the Apostle and through Paul’s witness was converted. In his letter to Philemon, Paul wrote of Onesimus who, “once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.” Read Philemon 1-25 NLT. Those words intrigue me. His past was past; his future was changed. It seems ironic that his name, Onesimus, means “useful,” yet he was once considered, “unprofitable.” Paul affirmed the sincere conversion of Onesimus in these words, “[Onesimus] now is useful to you and to me.”

Paul’s description of Onesimus piqued my thoughts with a practical question. How can you and I increase our worth in another’s life? Doing things worthwhile to another’s well-being increases your worth to them. As a beginning, the New Testament is filled with multiple, practical instructions of appropriate, unselfish, Godly behavior toward one another, such as, “Serve one another in love . . the entire Law is summed up in a single command: love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 NIV.

Humility is a virtue in your dealings with others. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” 1 Peter 5:5 NIV. You and I are profitable to others when we contribute more to them than we require of them. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV. Profitable people never overlook the treasure in an earthen vessel. As the Lord’s servants, we are called to encourage one another, recognizing the profit and potential in others and affirming that with our words to them and our actions toward them.

On another occasion, Paul also affirmed another young companion who had previously disappointed him. See Acts 15:37-40 NKJV. Older and wiser, Paul asked Timothy, “Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV. Ask yourself, have I lived in a practical, beneficial way toward others today? Every day, find practical ways to serve others. And begin at home.

Today, I pray for you to be found profitable in the purposes of God for your life and others.

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Prayer and God’s Kingdom

March 3rd, 2014

“May Your kingdom come soon; may Your will be done here on earth.” Matthew 6:10 NKJV.

Effort and energy is wasted when making life comfortable rather than valuable.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s Kingdom.”

In your heart is a desire to make a difference, to make yours and others’ lives better. As you are made in the image and likeness of God, kingdom building is a natural instinct; God put it there. The problem is that so many misinterpret and misapply that inner push within their heart, wasting precious effort and energy to make life comfortable rather than valuable.

Jesus’ disciples seemed to understand that prayer played a significant role but were unsure how. Hence, their simple request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus responded, “When you pray, say, Our Father in Heaven . . May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NLT. Prayer accelerates the implementation of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is the central message of all Jesus came to do and teach. Following Jesus baptism and wilderness temptation, “From that time on, Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near,’” (Matthew 4:17 NIV), and during His earthly ministry, “preaching the good news of the Kingdom,” (Matthew 4:23-25 NIV), and even after His Resurrection, “. . over a period of forty days [speaking] about the Kingdom of God,” (Acts 1:1-3 NIV), everything Jesus did and taught was to reveal the absolute authority and power of the Kingdom of God in ordinary lives.

Of first importance in your prayers, have you welcomed His Kingdom into your heart and life? Unless His Kingdom is released in you, prayers are mere words, powerless and ineffective. In any heart tuned to His, there is a yearning for the full and all powerful expression of the Kingdom to come sooner rather than later. His kingdom has come; that is certain. Beyond that, prayer asserts, not the Kingdom’s arrival, but its intended fullness and influence in the lives and affairs of men. Read 1 Corinthians 4:20/15:22-26 NIV.

Being questioned by the Roman Governor, Jesus clarified, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36 NIV. Make no mistake; Jesus was clear. His kingdom is not OF this world by either origin or authority, but is IN this world by Heaven’s decree and your participation. The Kingdom of God is wherever the righteous rulership of Jesus Christ is on earth. To that end we work and pray.

Prayer aligns the accomplishment of the will of God on earth with the purposes and power of God, “. . just as it is in Heaven.” Imagine His will done on earth in your life, home and family, community, country, and our world, “. . just as it is in Heaven.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NLT. Prayer – effective and fervent – can accomplish that to the glory of God. See James 5:16-18 NKJV. Little prayers for only personal needs are inconsequential when contrasted with exercising prayer that establishes and extends the Kingdom of God more broadly. Prayer does encompass your personal needs, yet reaches well beyond and into the eternal and expansive purposes of God.

My prayer for you today is that you will exercise the power and authority of prayer wisely.

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Distractions

January 3rd, 2014

“I am doing a great work.” Nehemiah 6:3 NKJV.

The things that make you unique enable your success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions.”

In serving God and others, you are given something meaningful to do that is unique to yourself – your interests, experiences, natural talents, and spiritual giftedness. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another . . let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV. The things that make you unique enable your success. Your success and corresponding satisfaction result from discovering your life-calling and dedicating yourself to achieve that to the best of your ability and opportunity. Read 1 Timothy 4:14/2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV.

The obstacles to success can be many, and common among those are distractions. From those, discouragement results. Distraction creates detours and dead ends. The enemy of everything God wants to do in your life, and with your life, is the master of distraction and author of discouragement. Paul was ruthless about unprofitable distractions, “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 . .” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Distractions can come in many forms – ambivalence, fear, doubts, busyness, tiredness, delays, disappointments, opposition, others’ opinions, people’s expectations, mistreatment, competing options, and/or people’s expectations. Every step in a wrong direction diminishes accomplishing your purpose and faithfulness to your calling. Jesus said, ”No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NKJV.

Nehemiah is a good example of avoiding distractions. From his zeal for God came a divine call to lead the monumental reconstruction project of Jerusalem. Read Nehemiah 2:1-18 NKJV. Because Nehemiah had a mission, vision, passion, and conviction, he succeeded where others failed. Besides the immense task, there were also enemies who opposed the rebuilding altogether. There will always be resistance – internal and/or external. After repeated attempts to dissuade Nehemiah from his work by ridicule, false accusations, threats, and even plots to harm him, his enemies finally sought to distract him – possibly their most devilish strategy.

“Our enemies . . sent to me, saying, ‘Come; let us meet together’. . but they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’” Nehemiah 6:2-4 NKJV. Four times Nehemiah refused their efforts to distract him. Anything other than what God called him to do was lesser, and lesser things were irrelevant to Nehemiah. Compare Matthew 4:1-11 NIV.

The conviction, “I am doing a great work,” allows for no debate. If your efforts are not eternally consequential – important to yourself, others, and God – then reassess your priorities. Is there anything distracting you from doing God’s will? “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain.” See 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you dedicate yourself to the will and purposes of God.

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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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