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Plans and Steps

May 8th, 2018

LIFE IS BEST WHEN GOD IS FIRST.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Plans and Steps.”

A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well, and a plan that is not clear, and manageable on some daily basis, will not lead to success. A plan is like GPS. You first choose your desired destination. Then a plan is formulated as the best way to get there. That could and should be applied to everyday life. A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well. And any plan that is not clear and manageable on some daily basis will not lead to success. Some years ago, a simple yet practical strategy became popular, “Plan the work; work the plan.” Solomon learned that, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 NLT. That remains wise advice in any circumstance.

When you plan, you visualize the priority and time required for the various matters requiring your efforts. When you neglect those moments to think through a day’s responsibilities, you find yourself busy but less productive. Without a plan for the day, energy is misspent, and efforts are less effective. Attention is easily divvied and distracted. Time is poorly allocated. I have learned that important things are often replaced by alternatives that seem easier and more immediately enjoyable.

Direction is necessary for production. Now, let’s look at this on a larger scale with more eternal consequence. This principle especially applies to your spiritual life, as well as your daily life. Those two are inseparable, by the way. You will be more successful at the latter, when you succeed at the former. You cannot successfully compartmentalize your life into differing categories, seasons, or circumstances, in some of which you retain operational control while in others you are expecting God to direct and bless. Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. Jesus made this clear, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

Often, my Dad reminded me, “Allen, first things first!” It’s very simple really. First, you work, then you play. First, you save, then you spend. First, you seek God’s plan, then you follow His plan. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Read Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT. You and your wellbeing have been in God’s plans from the beginning and continue to be.

Life is best when God is first. God has the definitive plan for your life. Scripture is consistent. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. Through prayer and Scripture, let God plan your work. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

That being true, then devote yourself to knowing and following His plan. That is called obedience, a priority to God and a necessity for your success. Obedience will supply you with the necessary focus and ability you do not otherwise possess. Obedience will produce opportunities you neither earned nor expected. And obedience will yield achievement you do not imagine. God’s direction is always accurate; His timing is always exact; His results are always abundant.

Today I pray for you to discover God’s purpose in all you do and with all you have.

Christian Communications 2018-1308

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Passions and Priorities

September 6th, 2017

  Your passion determines your priorities.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV  

My comments today are about, “Passions and Priorities.”

God is not elusive nor the path to God concealed. But the spiritual opposition to your seeking God is intense, both externally and internally. An evil trinity of spiritual forces oppose you. The world around you, your flesh within you, and the devil against you all conspire to turn your heart to other pursuits more immediately pleasing.

God described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 13:22 NKJV. What a wonderful way that God described David. Your passion determines your priority. Your priority reveals your passion. David’s passion for God fueled his priority to know and please God. “You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV. Any serious pursuit of God must be done with earnestness and priority.

Jesus was clear and specific, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. How would others describe your appetite and thirst for God today? Earnestly and diligently are apt descriptions of how you should be seeking God’s highest and best for your life.

David described his passion for God as he wrote, ”My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:8 KJV. Seeking God is not for the easily distracted or readily discouraged, and never for the merely casual or curious. Such is the path reserved for those for whom life without God is not enough.

You will earnestly seek for what you believe is of incomparable value and for which you will accept no substitute. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask [according to His will] – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV.

Jesus presented a Biblical progression for those determined to seek God with whole hearted devotion and single-minded purpose. Read Luke 11:9-10 NIV. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Asking is elementary. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 NIV. Asking reflects your priority of God’s will and your patience with God’s timing.

Jesus also said, “Seek, and you will find.” Seeking involves attitude as much as activity, a time while the Spirit refines the sincerity of your heart. “[God] rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. As my Dad often reminded me, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.”

Jesus concluded by saying, “Knock, and the door will be opened unto you.” Knocking indicates your anticipation more than insistence. Jesus concluded with this promise, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to cultivate a heart that seeks after God always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Stand Fast

January 19th, 2017

Posture evidences inner attitude

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand.” Ephesians 6:11 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today urge that you, “stand fast.”

Posture reveals a lot about a person with or without their awareness: intimating comfort or discomfort, confidence or reluctance, humility or arrogance, benevolence or malice. Posture evidences inner attitude. But consider a different, more important facet of posture, more spiritual than physical. The Bible distinguishes between the outward man of the flesh and the inward man of the Spirit. “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NKJV. Time spent on your knees empowers faith and obedience. Standing is a posture of faith, expressing preparedness and availability. God’s Word has much to say about the Christian’s spiritual posture.

Stand fast in faith. Circumstances will challenge your posture of faith. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong . . And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NKJV/Romans 14:4 NIV.

Stand strong in adversity. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore . .” Read Ephesians 6:11-18 NKJV.

Stand strong in righteousness. The opposition and persecution of the religious leaders could not dissuade Paul, “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand.” Acts 26:22 NKJV. Trust in God’s strength, not your own. “My help comes from the Lord.” Psalm 121:2 NKJV.

Stand steadfast in prayer. “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 NKJV.

Stand sure in grace. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 NKJV. God’s grace is the singularly strong place to stand. Stand fast in Christ and His finished work on Calvary.

Stand fast in freedom. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV.

Stand in awe of God. Your view of God determines and supports everything else about your personal faith. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” Psalm 33:8 NKJV.

Stand still in God’s promise. Before an uncrossable sea and an invincible army behind, and with the promise of God in his heart, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.’” Exodus 14:13 NKJV. God has a great victory for you if you will reject your fear and stand fast in His promises. “That [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Read Ephesians 3:16-19 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to always stand in the strength of the God’s Word and Holy Spirit.

Christian Communications 2016

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The Practice of Prayer

December 1st, 2016

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “the practice of prayer.”

Prayer is asking God for only what is His will to provide.

Friendships do not grow without some sincere measure of communication. Why would that be any different between you and God? In the exchange of thought and heart you know God and become known by Him. Think about this: if God does not speak to you any more than you speak with Him, will you ever know Him as well as you could? And if that be true of you, for all intents and purposes you will be living your life without Heaven’s help. That seems to me a needless risk and a frightening possibility.

Prayer is neither mystery nor magic, though it is sometimes treated as both. The Bible clearly teaches the importance of prayer and assures the power of prayer, yet prayer seems not to be the most consistent practice for many. Some are content to keep prayer as a practice to be used only in case of an emergency. If you neglect the practice of prayer at regular times I am not sure how confident or convincingly you will pray in an emergency.

Prayer is a divine conversation, the most important conversation of your day, the communication of your own heart to God and the corresponding knowledge of God’s heart to you. Prayer involves making time for both speaking and listening. And listening may be the more useful and beneficent part of true prayer. When I was a young boy, my father suggested that I consider the fact that God may have given me one mouth but two ears so that I would listen twice as much as I speak, and learn much more in the process. I think that is good advice in life, and especially in the matter of prayer.

Let’s be practical about this incomparable spiritual discipline. Prayer is not primarily for getting your needs met; prayer is not an occasional list of things you need from God. Prayer is about your needs, but that is not its first or more important value. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV. Prayer is your opportunity for personal discourse with your Heavenly Father that enhances your communication and relationship with Him.

Prayer is asking God for only what is His will to provide. “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. Effective prayer is neither mystery nor magic. Your prayers are answered when you pray as Jesus taught us to pray, “Not my will but Yours be done.” Such prayer discovers and releases God’s will. The single thing that makes your prayer most effective is your asking God in alignment with His will.

You can know what the will of God is in any situation. But how? On your own, you cannot fully comprehend the scope and magnitude of God’s will, but you can develop a better understanding of His will by a growing knowledge of God’s Word, the regular exercise of knowing God’s heart through prayer, and by inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer. “And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” See Romans 8:26-28 NLT.

A confident relationship clarifies your requests and emboldens your assurance. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16 NLT. Intimidated by the requirement of righteousness? Only Jesus can deem you righteous. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 NKJV. What a wondrous God we serve.

Today, I pray for you to make prayer your joyful practice in all things large or small.

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

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