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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 8:28-29’

A Work in Progress

March 20th, 2015

“Like clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand.” Jeremiah 18:6 NIV.

Remain in God’s hands until His work is complete and His plan evident.

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

People are so impatient; we expect everything to be immediate. What we want, we want now. You must learn that whatever is worth having is worth waiting for. And whatever is worth waiting for is worth the time and effort that necessitates.

As it pertains to your spiritual life and development, your best efforts alone will not achieve all God intends for you. Try as diligently as you might, your efforts will fall short. What needs to happen in your spiritual life requires God for its accomplishment. Yes, there are spiritual disciplines to which you must steadfastly commit yourself and be diligent in doing so. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness . . knowledge . . self-control . . perseverance . . Godliness . . brotherly kindness, and love.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV. Ultimately, your spiritual growth requires the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling and working within you. Spiritual maturity occurs as you rest in God’s hands fully and continually, to work as He wills.

Jeremiah visited a potter’s shop and observed the potter at work when, “the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him . . like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand.” Jeremiah 18:1-4/6 NIV. The work in His hands requires more than the quality of the clay; the ultimate outcome is due to the vision, diligence, and skill of the potter. Impurities or failure may temporarily mar God’s design and delay His intention, but all is not lost.

The God who by His mere words created a world out of nothing, whispers, “Trust Me.” Remain in God’s hands until His work is complete and His plan evident. The process may seem dizzying at times and the purpose unclear, but rest in your Creator. “What we will be has not yet been made known . . but we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” See 1 John 3:1-3 NIV. That’s God’s promise.

EDL pix work in progressGod knows exactly what He is doing. You are a work in progress, while He faithfully conforms you into the image of His Son, Jesus, as you have asked Him to do. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Romans 8:28-29 NIV. That seems well beyond your finite ability to comprehend, but true nevertheless. I am not yet what I will be nor am I what I once was. “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.

When I was a young pastor with few skills and many uncertainties, God spoke His Word to my heart, “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV. Of that truth, I have never had reason to be uncertain. Across the years, I continue to be strengthened by the promise of His faithfulness. Read 2 Timothy 3:16/Hebrews 13:20-21. You are God’s unique design fashioned for His service and glory.

Participate and cooperate in the grand process that is called spiritual life. Really, this life is but prelude to life, eternal and incomparably glorious. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.

Today, my prayer for you is that the lasting impressions on your life are His alone.

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The Process of Progress

September 16th, 2014

“Old things have passed away; all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.

Exchanging the expendable for the expedient is the process of progress.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the process of progress.”

Life is a process of perpetual change. It is a delusion that things can remain as they were or are. They never do, nor should they. Paul envisioned the boundless intention of God for your spiritual development while warning of the tragedy of stunted development, “Until we all come . . to a [maturing] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we be should no longer be children . . but may grow up in all things into Christ.” Ephesians 4:13-15. Anything less is inadequate and unworthy of the grace God has shown to your life. Progress is not at all sudden; it is deliberate and incremental.

SIGN 2 (3)

Growing is natural; remaining the same is not. Without necessary change there would be no process for progress. If your life remained static, you would be less than you could and should be. I often reflect on the unconstrained potential that redemption restores to any and everyone who comes to Christ in faith. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12 KJV. What expansive potential is held in those words, “given the power to become.” What you become in Christ has so much to do with your choices and desire. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

John later wrote, “We are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when Jesus comes, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.” 1 John 3:2 NLT. Now the power of the Spirit is at work in you until the day the transformation into Christ-likeness is complete.

There are elements of your Christian life that are accomplished, finished works of grace. Yet there are also dimensions of Christian life that continue in the process of your becoming less of what you were and more than you had ever been. When you have done all that you are to do, God has not yet completed all that He will do. Read Philippians 3:12-14 NIV. You and I remain a glorious work in progress. “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.

Paul wrote, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Wonderful, new things await you in Christ, being released as you willingly relinquish your old ways. Meditate on Ephesians 4:21-32.

Redemption occurs in a moment of transformation; Christ-likeness is a lifelong process of conformation. Read Romans 8:28-29 NIV. Writing about his Christian liberties, Paul said, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV. Exchanging the expendable for the expedient is the process of progress.

Today, my prayer for you is to never accept the good as a substitute for God’s best.

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Disciplines of the Spirit

March 28th, 2014

“God’s discipline is always right and good for us.” Hebrews 12:11 NLT.

A lack of discipline results in a comparable lack of accomplishment.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “disciplines of the Spirit.”

I still have much to learn, but I am grateful for the discipline I received from my parents, teachers, life events, and the Word of God. See 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NKJV. There is no success without significant discipline. A lack of discipline results in a comparable lack of accomplishment. That is true in education, marriage, family, business, finances, or spiritual life.

Discipline is the lifestyle of a disciple. Jesus understood the rigorous requirements of discipline that being His disciple would involve. Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 NKJV. To be a follower of Christ, you must decide if you have both the desire and discipline to give the sustained effort necessary to succeed. If you want everything God has for you, you must learn to appreciate and welcome His loving discipline, which is conforming you into His likeness. See Romans 8:28-29 NIV.

Does the word, “discipline,” make you think of harshness or unfairness? Angry reprimands and harsh retribution are punishment, not discipline. Punishment is inflicted for past conduct; discipline is concerned with future behavior. Godly discipline is an act of loving correction. Discipline is not concerned with exacting a painful price for a past mistake. The application of discipline is for correction as prevention and preparation for the future. Discipline is administered within the context of relationship. See Romans 14:4 NIV. Biblically, discipline describes, “the whole realm of a father’s instruction and correction of a son.” Instruction apart from correction is inadequate. Only discipline frees one’s soul to soar.

The Bible teaches the proper, Godly response, “Don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you.” Hebrews 12:5 NLT. The Bible teaches the true heart of Godly discipline, “The Lord disciplines those He loves . . endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons . . for [your] profit, that you might be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:6-7 NIV/10 NKJV.

The Bible predicts your first, natural response to discipline, promises the benefits of discipline, and promotes the continuing submission necessary for best results: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. But later, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 NIV. Embrace Godly discipline as His expression of love.

The long term goal of God’s discipline is to develop self-discipline within your character, and yet even your best efforts will miserably fail unless you always have God at its source. “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you welcome the disciplines of life and the Spirit.

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Giving Thanks

November 29th, 2013

THX PIX 2

 

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV.

Even a bad day is better when God is with you and others are praying for you.

 My thoughts and comments today are about “giving thanks.”

There is always something for which you can give thanks. Any time is a good time to be thankful. I remember when a dear friend was facing very serious health crises. There were some good days but many difficult ones, dealing with challenging treatments and their debilitating aftermath. Among our conversations, I was careful not to ask how he was feeling, because I knew that most of the time he was not feeling well.

Instead, I asked, “How are you doing?” I rejoiced when he could respond, “Better today.” The simple truth is that every one of us can be thankful that any day is better than it might have been without the grace of God and the love and company of family and friends.  Even a bad day is better when you know God is with you and others are praying for you.

A favorite hymn of mine is, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” How easy it is to feel thankful when all is well and you are feeling good about your life. But what do you do those other times when everything is not as you wished it were? You give thanks sincerely. Feeling thankful is elusive; being thankful is obedience. “Always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all . . In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15/18 NKJV.

Giving thanks is not a ”when you feel like it” kind of thing; giving thanks is the active pursuit of what is good for you and embracing the expressed will of God for you. Failing to do so is acceptance of something much less and a failure to follow God’s will for your life, whatever your present circumstance.

Don’t dwell on what’s distressing you; look for ways God is blessing you. There is always something for which you can give thanks, if you have a heart to look for your blessings. Chose to be thankful. Your Father has a master plan that is unfolding under His wise and watchful loving care. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” See Romans 8:28-29 NIV.

As I thought about that, I realized there is a practical connection between thankfulness and hopefulness. It is hard to be hopeful about things yet unforeseen if you can’t find reasons for being thankful presently. On God’s agenda your calendar is filled with better days.

The Bible is clear, “Giving thanks always, for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 NKJV. Notice those words: always and all things. Admittedly, that is challenging for any of us, but obviously achievable in faith and with gratitude. Thanksgiving is the best of times to look for the blessings that assure your heart of better days.

My prayer for you today is that you are persuaded that any day is a better day with God.

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Godly Optimism

August 7th, 2013

“The plans I have for you [are] for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Optimism about the future is empty unless God is included there.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Godly optimism.”

In one’s life, a new season is exciting. You sense there is more, more ahead for you. Your heart and spirit is newly exhilarated. You know God is up to something, and it is going to be good. God, who is eternal, spans all of time. His plan encompasses what has already happened, what you are currently experiencing, and all that He has planned for your good. Read Romans 8:28-29. Nothing that has happened or is happening now will be wasted in God’s economy. In grace, God recycles anything that touches your life into something of blessing.

I recall a time when I began to feel God stirring in my heart. Gradually, a simple understanding clarified His instruction, “Purposefully position yourself, facing the future.” Your future is not foreboding; in God’s providence, your future is full of good things. “Surely God is good . . to those who are pure in heart.” Psalm 73:1 NIV. There was a corner to turn; a new season was ahead. Meanwhile, those words began to focus my plans and direct my efforts, motivating me to invest every effort and energy with expectation. See Philippians 3:13 NLT. Your future deserves priority and attention.

Really, that’s how life should be lived all the time, isn’t it? Optimism about the future is empty unless God is included there. “The plans I have for you [are] for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. Some are content to mark time, reliving their past, merely existing while overlooking a future with unlimited possibilities. “Purposefully positioning yourself, facing the future,” encourages an investment of your best effort, directs your full energies, and creates expectation. Life is different when you live with Godly optimism. See James 1:17-18NIV.

Live as Jesus lived, with an unwavering conviction, “I must be about My Father’s business.” Luke 2:49. That’s where joy, peace, fulfillment, and confidence are found. It isn’t about knowing everything the future holds; that is neither likely nor realistic. Your future is safe in God’s hand and plans. Expect good from His hands and not harm. Living fully in the moment is a posture of expectation. “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5 NIV.

You are not meant to worry about the future or be so preoccupied with what is yet unseen and unknown that you miss opportunities today. Today is ultimately about preparing yourself to fully inherit God’s future and intent for you. God wants to include you in His grand adventure. “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved . . Trust in Him at all times.” Psalm 62:5-8 NKJV.

It is easy to miss some measure of your future when you are a captive of the past or captivated in the moment. In God, all that has gone before is prelude for what is yet to be. Appreciate your history; enjoy every minute of this moment; but your future in view. Tomorrow, not yesterday, is where your greatest accomplishments and satisfaction still await.

My prayer for you this day is: have assurance of what God holds in His heart for you.

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