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A Holy Passion

March 17th, 2017

May your supreme passion be to know Jesus intimately

 “That I may know Jesus in the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a holy passion.”

Life is meant to be passionate. Life is less when passion is lacking or absent. As passion lessens, a marriage weakens. Where passion suffers, achievements diminish. When meaningful interaction is less important, friendships weaken. More importantly, spiritual life declines when priorities are misplaced. Most people do not intentionally choose that loss of enthusiasm. Without care and attention, it just happens in ways too small to notice. Passion is often more misdirected than reduced, displaced on things other than where it should have remained.

By the Holy Spirit, I feel challenged daily to pursue and preserve an authentic relationship with God and others. Here is the challenge. Apart from the Holy Spirit, a holy passion is not normal to our nature, nor easy to sustain in an oppositional, secular culture. Yet, spiritual passion is the only way you will truly know God in a depth of experience that is releasing and transforming. Do not indulge lesser passions to diminish a holy, empowering passion for Jesus.

The Church in the ancient city of Laodicea was described by Jesus as, “lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold.” Lukewarmness is not a tolerable option. See Revelation 3:14-22 NIV. How could this have happened to those loving, Christ-followers in contrast to what had previously been true of them? Their passion diminished because they described themselves as, “rich, and have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” They became wrongly content, foolishly self-satisfied, and seriously mistaken.

Writing to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praised their zeal for matters of righteousness, but judged their loss of passion in their love for God. “You have left your first love . . this is what I have against you: you do not love Me as you did at first.” Revelation 2:4 NKJV/TEV. Did you notice the description – left, not lost? That happens more easily than you recognize and more quickly than you notice, always with the same tragic result.

If you can remember a time when your passion and priority for Christ, the Word of God, and worship alongside others was more than today, you have lost your “love as at the first.” Repentance is in order immediately and sincerely. The remedy is simple enough, “Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to Me again and work as you did at first.”  Read Revelation 2:1-7 NLT.

By commandment, Jesus established this fact: wholehearted love for God is non-negotiable. Jesus required that your love for God must be comprehensive, “. . with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NKJV. Notice the absolute inclusiveness of Jesus’ words. Love God with everything you are and have, in every area of your abilities and personal resources.

There were seasons in my life when lesser passions competed for my focus and energies. Automobiles, tennis, golf, travel, business, and such trivial matters vied for attention at one time or another. In their proper place, such pursuits are fine. But if they at all supplant His place in your heart and life, they are too costly. As I grow older, my marriage and family, ministry, and friendships have owned more of my loyalties. Since college, my lifelong passion remains, “That I may know [Jesus] in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being made conformable unto His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. May your passion be to know Jesus intimately.

Today, I pray for your love to be fervent about Jesus and inspire others to do so.

Christian Communications 2017

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Truth Conquers Sin

February 2nd, 2017

The harder you run from your wrongs the faster truth pursues

My thoughts and comments today are that “truth conquers sin.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9 NIV.

As a young teen, more than once I was reminded by my Dad, “You may be sure your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 NIV. I never felt his words threatening, nor did my Dad mean them to be. He wanted me to understand the folly of sin; he succeeded in doing that. I was sobered by his words and probably behaved better than I might have otherwise. When you live everyday life with a deep conviction of the holiness of God and the inherent sinfulness of your own flesh, you will subject your decisions and plans to a more careful scrutiny. Doing so is a healthy and spiritually beneficial exercise.

Sin will not stay a secret for long. The harder you run from facing your wrongs the faster truth pursues you. Covering what you have done never succeeds. Why even try? Denial doesn’t make your wrong disappear. Jesus warned, “Beware of hypocrisy.  The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have . . whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear.” Luke 12:1-3 NLT. Eventually, wrong is exposed. Ever wondered why?

The enemy of your soul wants your transgression to become a permanent and fatal flaw, so he tempts you to deny and hide it. Doing so never works out well for anyone but your spiritual adversary. The devil wants to torture you with your wrong doing and allow him to eventually rule over you. If the accuser of your soul can succeed, he can keep you in the prison of your own guilt and shame. The Bible describes him as, “The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night.” Read Revelation 12:10-11 NIV. His scheme is to control you by the threat of exposure. Never give him that leverage.

How much more plain could anything be? Adam and Eve tried blaming, denying, and hiding in the Garden of Eden. How did that work out for them? Read Genesis 3:6-13 NIV. God will not let that work for you any better than it did for Adam and Eve. God loves you too much to allow that to happen. Because of His love, God will not allow the strategy of denying and hiding sin to succeed. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NIV.

What then is the righteous response to sin? My dearest of friends, Campbell, often said, “There is only one way that sin leaves a life – through the mouth in confession.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Read 1 John 1:5-10 NIV. Honest and humble repentance before God and man is the only cure for sin. David wrote, “When I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Read Psalm 32:1-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know that honesty about sin is always the best policy.

Christian Communications 2017

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A Fresh Start

January 27th, 2017

Today can be an exit from your history and entrance to your destiny

 “His compassions are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a fresh start.”

Life can feel unmanageable, your past cluttered with unfinished business and the path ahead filled with responsibilities. But life is not lived in yesterday or tomorrow; life can only be lived today. Your life is more than the facts of your history or your unrealized destiny. Positively or negatively, both of those are greatly affected by anything, or maybe everything, you do today. You can reinforce your history or rewrite its predictions. You can sell your future cheaply or invest yourself in achieving its potential.

This day is a fresh opportunity to write a new chapter in the ongoing story of your life. Sure, you have made mistakes. There are things you would have done better if you had been wiser. The remedy for regrets is simple. Enjoy a fresh start. Do better; learn from your mistakes rather than repeating them.

King David’s story is a record of repentance and redemption. In repentance, he embraced a greater future. Learn from his example and rejoice with him: “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:23-24 NIV.

Recognize God as Lord of this day and rejoicing becomes the appropriate response. In grace, your history becomes His story. Today can bring a fresh start. Stop rehearsing your mistakes, regretting your failures, or reliving your record. Your God has a record of redeeming tragic histories. And your God is equally adept at crafting unimagined destinies. Both of those the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the context of today.

The Apostle Paul had history that God covered in grace and mercy. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy.” Read 1 Tim 1:12-17 NKJV. On that road to Damascus, Paul met God face to face and his history was redeemed and his destiny assured. Read Acts 9:1-6 NKJV. People do not turn their life around without divine intervention. Only ignorance or arrogance – or both – would make a person attempt such a life change without God.

Paul found there was only one answer for spiritual transformation and subsequent conformation to Christ-likeness. “I am still not all that I should be, but 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 Jesus, is calling us up to Heaven.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.

Notice that Paul mentioned, “one thing,” and then proceeded to talk about, “forgetting, looking forward, and straining to reach.” The one thing Paul believed crucial was expressed in three equally essential actions: laying aside everything inhibiting about yesterday, living with anticipation today, and giving Godly effort to fulfill God’s calling every day that follows. Today can be an exit from your history and entrance to your destiny.

Today, I pray for you to trust both your history and destiny into Jesus’ capable hands.

Christian Communications 2017

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Coming Home

March 7th, 2016

“In returning and rest you shall be saved.” Isaiah 30:15 NKJV.

Repentance is radically more than regret.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “coming home.”

We so misjudge the nature of God. You know God is the Father of our Lord Jesus, but Jesus definitively said that His father is your Father. When you believe and understand that, it is liberating truth. After Jesus’ resurrection, He said, “I am returning to My Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20:17 NIV. In the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly described God as, “your Father.” Jesus did not say that His Father would be like a father to you; Jesus said that His Father would be your Father. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name . .” Read Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV.

Jesus devised stories to make truth understandable and personally applicable. In the most beloved story Jesus told, He described a loving, gracious, and forgiving father to reveal the nature of your Heavenly Father. Read Luke 15:11-19 NIV. Jesus told of a wealthy father and his two sons, a story usually presumed to be about a younger, “prodigal son,” and his elder brother. In reality, the two sons are subordinate to Jesus’ focal point. Jesus’ accent is really on the father, extravagantly selfless and sacrificially gracious to a fault. Prodigal is a word that can positively describe lavish generosity that typifies the father in Jesus’ story, or negatively describe the wanton wastefulness of the younger son.

The younger misspent what his father had given to him, and was soon left penniless, desperate, and far from home. Inevitably, however much you have will be inadequate apart from your Father. The only questions are how and when, and what comes next. “After he had spent everything . . he began to be in [desperate] need . . when he came to his senses” Reality reoriented his thoughts to his father and home, and a simpler, better time in stark contrast to his present circumstances.

Returning home was his best and only alternative. His resolve was clear, his humility sincere, his repentance real. “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I will go back to my father and say to him, ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your servants.’” His journey began with demanding, “Give me my share.” He returned with humble request, “Make me like one of your servants.” Repentance is radically more than regret; “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 NIV. In love, your Father will allow past choices and present struggles to turn your heart homeward.

Picture the scene, “While he was still a long way off . . his father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Read Luke 15:20-24 NIV. With urgency and abandon, the father ran to embrace his long absent son, smothering the prodigal with his forgiveness and rapturous joy. His reception exceeded even the remorse of his penitent son. Fear was banished, shame discarded, forgiveness spontaneously granted. Home is where you belong.

Wherever you’ve wandered, whatever you’ve done, however long you have lost your way, come home to your Father now. I remember words of an old hymn – “I’ve wandered far away from God, Now I’m coming home; The paths of sin too long I’ve trod, Lord, I’m coming home. Coming home. Coming home, Nevermore to roam, Open wide Your arms of love, Lord, I’m coming home.” William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921.

Today, I pray for you to know there is a place for you in the bounteous grace of God.

Prodigal's Father

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016
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Failures and Sorrows

September 4th, 2015

“Simon, when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32 NKJV.

Momentary failure need not produce consequences for a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “failures and sorrows.”

Failure comes in many forms and sizes, but inevitably comes to all. May yours be insignificant and easily redeemable. Learning from your own and others’ failures is essential. The prolific inventor, Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, held 1093 patents but failed hundreds of times before successfully inventing the electric light bulb because he didn’t stop trying until he succeeded. Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Turning failure to success is possible.

Who does not identify with Simon Peter? His record was not flawless. When he failed, he failed publicly and on a grand scale. Despite Peter’s earlier protestations of allegiance and after Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied three times to even have known Jesus. As the day dawned, Peter heard the crow of the rooster, remembered Jesus’ words and, “went out and wept bitterly.” See Luke 22:60-62 NKJV. Failure is not final; mistakes are not fatal.

Earlier, Jesus had spoken words of warning to Peter, but also reassurance, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NKJV. Momentary failure need not produce consequences for a lifetime. “My salvation will last forever; My righteousness will never fail.” Isaiah 51:6 NIV.

Regret is a natural reaction; repentance is a spiritual response. Though the emotions feel similar, the resultant remorse is not to be confused. Paul explains the difference in these terms, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV. Regret is a natural, emotional sorrow that you are less holy than you thought you were. Repentance is a spiritual sorrow that you loved God less than you thought you did.

May your failures be from human judgement, not lack of spiritual character. You will not always get everything right the first time, but the first time should not become your last effort. And don’t give up on yourself; Jesus doesn’t. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 NIV. Bring every failure to Jesus quickly, Who alone can give you a fresh start. “Jesus appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5-6 NIV. Jesus appraisal and commendation of your life can be, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . Enter into the joys of the Lord forever.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that your failures will be few and your successes many.

Christian Communications 11216

EDL PIX remorse

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