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Character, Reputation, and Esteem

July 6th, 2018

Reputation is easier to protect than repair

“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Character, Reputation, and Esteem.”

Reputation is what people report to others about you. Your reputation is the history of who you have been, the story of where you have been, and the record of who you are becoming. Your reputation opens doors for you or closes doors to you. Reputation is what people believe to be true of you, whether their opinion is accurate or exaggerated. A good reputation is invaluable, when it reflects Godly character. Being reputable is a valued spiritual and social priority that requires time to achieve and careful attention to sustain.

A Godly reputation is only accomplished over a length of time with practiced and predictable consistency of character. But reputation can be quite fragile, easily damaged, or diminished by uncharacteristic behavior. Solomon elevated the value of reputation above riches. “Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NLT. Reputation should be highly valued and also guarded vigilantly.

However, a bad reputation can happen more easily and rapidly than you might imagine. Once assigned to you, a poor reputation can require a lengthy time and much difficulty to repair. Protecting a reputation is easier than repairing one. Remember, reputation can either open or close doors for your potential future. Reliability is important to people, therefore it must be important to you. The Bible is clear: “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones . . if you are untrustworthy . . who will trust you?” Luke 16:10-12 NLT. Reliability is a vital factor of reputation. Opportunities are directly related to past faithfulness.

Exchanging even a moment of your future for a present season of your life is shortsighted. You want it to be true of you as was written of Demetrius, “Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius. We ourselves can say the same for him.” 3 John 12 NLT. My aspiration is as was written of those people of faith and faithfulness, “They were longing for a better country – a Heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,  for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. I want to live in such a manner that my God, family, and friends would have no reason to feel ashamed.

Today I pray for you to live in a manner that is with honor and without reproach.

Christian Communications 2018

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Good Success

July 18th, 2016

Let the best of your past be the boost for your future.

“David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “good success.”

David and Goliath are a favorite story of mine. David achieved monumental success against all odds. Everyone likes a story where the good guy wins. Wouldn’t it be great if you could know and copy David’s secret? Success is not that simple. There is rarely just one solution. Almost as a footnote the Bible records, “David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV. Ever curious about why David selected five stones? Without God, five ordinary stones are not all that more confidence building than one. The Bible does not answer that question, which allows us to consider why he might have done so.

If you are serious about succeeding, I suggest you will be open to more than one way to achieve your goal. You need the kind of attitude that boldly says, “Whatever it takes!” Maybe David chose five stones because he didn’t know which one God would direct to its mark; he was just sure that God would make the most of his every effort. You can be sure of that as well. I suggest “five stones” as practical contributors to meaningful accomplishments.

  1. Learn from your failure; build on your success. Do not dwell on failures nor forget successes. Understanding those avoids further mistakes and celebrates victories as confidence boosters. People usually do just the opposite, recalling every painful, trivial detail of failure while discounting triumphs God helped them achieve.
  2. Let the best of your past be the boost for your future. David remembered well. “God who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37. Be careful; your focus determines your direction and expectation; make sure that moves you upward and onward. Paul practiced this: “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.
  3. Concern yourself more with God’s honor than your reputation. Like everything else in life, success is not about you and your enrichment or acclaim; your success brings glory to God’s Name and reveals His nature to bless Godly efforts. “I come to you in the Name of the Lord Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. . the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. And everyone will know the Lord does not need weapons to rescue His people. It is His battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!” 1 Samuel 17:45-47. It’s not about you; it’s all about Him and His victory and glory.
  4. Success does not come to spectators. David was willing to join the battle. He was impassioned, “Who is this that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . Is there not a cause?” 1 Samuel 17:26/29. He became personally involved. Success does not come while you watch; success comes when you work.
  5. Never give up short of a Godly goal. I read this statement, “Success is 10% ability and good fortune, and 90% perseverance.” Someone else observed, “The harder I work the more fortunate I become.” Every success is built on a history of effort and perseverance. “In everything [David] did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14 NIV. Success awaits you.

Today, I pray that you experience the satisfaction of good effort amid the joy of success.

EDLdavid_and_goliath 7-18-16

Christian Communications 2016

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Character and Reputation

December 13th, 2014

“Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a righteous man.” Matthew 1:19 NIV.

Character and obedience always matter first to God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “character and reputation.”

Joseph is little noticed and under-appreciated in the Christmas drama. Yet God chose Joseph just as carefully as was Mary chosen. Joseph had history and reputation with God. The Bible says that God saw, “Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a righteous man.” Matthew 1:19 NIV. A righteous man; what a description of Godly character. God chose a just and righteous man who would model spiritual devotion and shape the humanity of Jesus. Joseph modeled Godly care and character. His example and personal faith would be extremely influential in the young child’s earliest years.

Mary would need a good hearted man, just and righteous, to accept and protect her. And a kind and caring man to firmly stand between her and the predictable whispers of disapproval, or maybe even the rejection of family. A righteous man would reflect God’s love and protection for Mary. God knew the difficult choices Joseph would face, and God knew that Joseph would make a just and righteous decision. Read Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV. He could protect his good name or provide a home for Mary and this child. He could not do both. In life, hard choices have to be made; not all options are equal.

Jesus would need a Godly father to teach Him the ways of God. Joseph would model the justice and righteousness of God in his home. Character and obedience always matter first to God. When there is something to be done of eternal import, God chooses people who consistently put God first. God’s plans for your life always require a priority of His purpose. Joseph had history with God; God could trust his choices. Do God’s will first and foremost; then all else finds its proper order.

My Dad, a pastor, often “preached” this principle to me, “First things first!” When asked to do something, I usually had a different option I preferred. I always intended to do as he asked, eventually, as convenience and circumstance allowed. My Dad never found that acceptable. As a child, I learned that my convenience was not a substitute for my Dad’s expectations; as an adult, I learned why that is not a strategy that works in life.

Priority evidences importance. You put first who or what you consider to be of first importance. Jesus put the Father first because the Father was His priority. Jesus modeled His priority; “I always do those things that please [the Father].” John 8:29 NKJV. Advent should involve re-structuring the way things have become; “Your Heavenly Father knows all your needs, and He will give you all your need from day to day, if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:33 NLT. Reflect on what your primary concerns and the obedience required to fulfill those should be.

This Christmas seems an opportunity for an honest inventory of how you and your family reflect this practical issue of keeping, “first things first.” Christmas is a good time to be reminded of the Old Testament prophet’s words, “[God] has shown you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. Life is to be lived justly and more sacrificially every day, in every way.

This Advent, my prayer for you is that your history with God releases your destiny in God.

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A Christmas Truth

December 19th, 2012

Character and obedience always matter first to God.

“Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, being a just man . .” Matthew 1:19 NKJV.

Joseph is little noticed and under-appreciated in the Christmas drama. Yet God chose Joseph just as carefully as Mary. The Bible says that God saw, “Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a just man.” Matthew 1:19 NKJV. A just man, that is quite a tribute from the Almighty. Would God have chosen any lesser man to model spiritual devotion for Jesus? Joseph’s character, priorities, example, and personal faith would be extremely influential in the young child’s earliest years. God knew Joseph would face a difficult choice, and God knew that he would make a just and righteous decision. Read Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV. He could protect his good name or provide a home for Mary and this miracle child. He could not do both. Life gives you choices; not all options are equal.

Mary would need a just man to accept and protect her, to stand firmly between her and the predictable whispers of disapproving friends, and maybe even family; Jesus would need a just father to teach Him the ways of God. God chose Joseph, a just and righteous man. Character and obedience always matter first to God. That is a Christmas truth. When God has something important to be done He chooses those who consistently put God first. Who knows what grand plans God has for your life when you put Him first? Joseph had history with God; God could trust his choices. This Advent, do God’s will first and foremost, then all else finds its proper place.

My Dad, a pastor, often “preached” this principle to me, “First things first!” When asked to do something, I occasionally had an option I preferred. I always intended to do as he asked – eventually – but as convenience and circumstance allowed. Care to guess how that worked out for me? Not so well. Early on, I learned that my convenience did not equal my Father’s expectation. To my Dad, that was not an acceptable response; as an adult, I learned why that is not a strategy that works in life.

Priority evidences importance. You choose to put first who or what you consider to be of first importance. Jesus put the Father first because the Father was His priority. Jesus modeled His priority; “I always do those things that please [the Father].” John 8:29 NKJV. Advent is the season to prepare your heart for the true celebration of Christmas. Christmas should be about re-structuring the way things have become, “. . if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:33 NLT. Are your primary concerns what they should be?

This Christmas – in celebrating the Savior’s birth – seems a perfect moment for an honest inventory of how you and your family reflect this practical issue of keeping “first things first.” Christmas is a good time to be reminded, “[God] has shown you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 NKJV. A Christmas truth is that life is to be lived more justly and sacrificially every day, in every way.

My prayer for you this Advent is that your history with God allows fulfillment of your destiny in God.

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A Work in Progress

June 24th, 2011

“But Christ gave Himself . . one sacrifice for all time.” Hebrews 10:12 Living Bible.

“The best of us definitely remains a work in progress.”

My thoughts today are about “a work in progress.”

Have you noticed how hard it is for people to forget what you’ve done, and how you have been? That may not still be true of you now but what you were seems to be what people always remember. A bad reputation is too easily gained and difficult to be changed sometimes. Being your best is so important at all times, however young or old you may presently be.

People know you the way you were; they can’t see inside or know your heart. But God sees inside your heart and knows the depths of one’s soul. The Bible reminds us that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” See 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV. God knows who you already are in Christ, and foresees who you are becoming in grace, and knows who you have always been in His heart. Admittedly, even the best of us definitely remains a work in progress. Here’s the good news: “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. God is still working in you, and the best is yet to be. While you and others were looking at your past, God was planning for your future – and it’s glorious!

Read these words slowly, thinking over every word.  I have taken the liberty to personalize it directly to you. “Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose (you) to be His very own through what Christ would do for (you); He decided then to make (you) holy in His eyes, without a single fault – (you) stand before Him covered with His love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt (you) into His own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for (you).” Read Eph 1:4-8 TLB.

And before you can even ask why, Paul answers your incredulous disbelief: “And He did this because He wanted to!” Enough said! And God decided all of that before the world was made, and before you were even born! What God did is not about you, nor who you are or aren’t, or what you’ve done or failed to do; what God did is all about God and who He is – abounding in grace, love, and mercy.

“But Christ gave Himself . . one sacrifice for all time . . for by that one offering, He made forever perfect in the sight of God all those whom He is making holy.” Hebrews 10:12/14 Living Bible. A friend of mine asked the question, “What can you do with a God like that? You love Him and give your life to Him!” How could it be hard to love and trust a God like that? See 2 Corinthians 5:15 TLB.

Don’t feel badly at others who can’t always see past your past. You probably have struggled with doing that yourself. Your own insecurity and self-doubts are what makes criticism so painful from family or friends. “So stop evaluating Christians . .  by what they seem to be on the outside . . when (you became) a Christian, (you became) a brand new person inside. (You) are not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-18 TLB.

Remember that less than good reputation, which is so easy to acquire? Paul wrote this, “Jesus made Himself of no reputation.” Philippians 2:7 NKJV. I think that was for the purpose of taking upon Himself your reputation and mine, and giving us His! What can you do with a God like that?

My prayer for you today is that you love Him and live for Him all of your life.

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