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Faith, Family, and Friendships

August 30th, 2017

Faith, family, and friends are essential to Life

The Father is the One who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faith, Family and Friendships.”

I recognize three Biblical and irreplaceable priorities in my life. In this order, those priorities are: my faith, my family, and my friends. All are significant, but their order is important. Priorities clarify and simplify daily life. When you are right with God, you have the guidance of His Word and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to get all other relationships right. If that personal, relationship is lacking, even the best of the other relationships is less than its potential. There is a temptation you must resist. God’s Word is clear. “Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.” James 4:4 NLT.

And prioritizing family is a Godly assignment with eternal accountability. Family can either be your fulfilling joy or will become one’s greatest sorrow and regret. The Bible has much wisdom and guidance for the relationships of husbands and wives, as well as parents and children. As your fellowship with God is resource for your family relationships, your Godly, family relationships have so much to do with the potential quality of your personal friendships.

Now, let’s talk about friends and friendships. God established the truth that, “two are better than one.” Solomon advised that righteous friendships make you are more successful, secure, satisfied, and stronger. See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV. I have found friends and friendships to be foundationally vital to health and happiness. Friendships are not  optional; they are essential. Life is less, much less, without the company and fellowship of true friends. God’s Word provides a lot of wisdom about friends and friendships. The Bible presents many exemplary friendships – Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Daniel and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Paul and Barnabas, as well as Jesus and the Disciples.

Friendships are based on a simple principle. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV. Be the friend you hope to have. The character of friendships entrusted to you reflect the friend you have chosen to be to others. I am very grateful for the many friends who have included me in their lives. I am better than I would have been without them. I hope my God, my family, and my friends would feel the same about our relationship.

I think the following verses provide the Biblical origin and foundation for all of this. “For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.” Romans 5:10-11 NLT. The spiritual health of your family and the authenticity of your Godly friendships rest upon and flow from the depth and steadfastness of your, “wonderful new relationship with God.”

Today, I pray for you to enjoy life-affirming friendships born of the friend you chose to be.

Christian Communications 2017

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Daily Bread

October 16th, 2015

“I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” John 6:35 NIV.

External things never satisfy eternal cravings.

My thoughts and comments today are about “daily bread.”

Hunger is a powerful motivation, impossible to ignore completely. God crafted your body to recognize its need for replenishing, whether for nutrition, exercise, or rest. The body responds to its lack by sending a signal and demanding a response. When the body’s need is not replenished, the body redirects the diminishing supply of nutritional resources to its vital organs. To adequately supply the heart, lungs, and brain, the body grows weaker waiting for nourishment, as the process of starving begins.

The human spirit is similar, requiring nourishment and replenishing. Make no mistake; there is a hunger of the soul. People ignore the hunger of the inner man or misinterpret their inner longings, trying in vain to fill a growing emptiness with things that never satisfy – money, possessions, busyness, thrills, amusements, sex, drugs, alcohol – always to excess yet never enough. External things never satisfy eternal cravings.

Too many fail to recognize the origin of the soul’s hunger. Jesus spoke plainly and confidently, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NIV. Listen to your heart; feed your soul; nourish your spirit; discover full satisfaction. Satisfaction is found only in Christ.

The Bread of Life desires that you know He alone will satisfy your supreme longings. His provision is abounding. Jesus is life exalting and eternal life assuring. It’s simple really; you have to come to Him. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 NIV. Jesus declared Himself to be that daily bread. “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51 NIV.

Job got it right, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12 KJV. Let’s be practical. You receive this life-giving, daily bread through the discipline of spiritual practices: worship (John 4:23-24), prayer and praise (Ephesians 6:18), personal Bible study (Psalm 119:11), meditation of Scripture (Psalm 1:1-3), and meaningful fellowship with others who seek the same Source and satisfaction. (Acts 2:42/46 NIV). Spiritual disciplines provide satisfaction that is much more full and lasting than any and everything else with which you might attempt to appease the spiritual hunger within. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . they shall be completely satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 NIV/AMP. In Jesus, your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Today, I pray for you to have an appetite for things that satisfy.

EDL pix basket of bread

 

 

 

Christian Communications

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Redeemed Lives

March 5th, 2012

“Bless the Lord . . Who redeems your life from destruction. Psalm 103:4 NKJV

“When trouble comes, abide in perfect peace and safety in God’s care.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “redeemed lives.”

The world is frequently an unsafe place, but you do not have to live in fear. There are things you will not evade because you were wise enough to see and avoid them. You will not foresee everything that could be hurtful, so you need a Redeemer who does! “Bless the Lord . . and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness . . Who satisfies you with good things.” Psalm 103:1-5 NKJV. What a litany of blessing!

The context of King David’s words is essential to appreciate the vastness of God’s comfort. All that God is flows from His love to forgive and redeem. David is not peering wishfully into the future nor glancing nervously ahead as he writes these words. He is reflecting on the grace and mercy he has already experienced – looking at the faithfulness of God across his lifetime. Recognition of what God has done gives assurance of what God will always do, ever true to His character and nature.

Faith in the moment allows you to flee confidently to God’s arms when trouble comes and abide there in perfect peace and safety. Salvation does not promise trouble will not come. The Savior is your assurance that, come though it does, you are not alone and will be protected. “You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy . . I will trust in the shelter of Your wings” Psalm 61:3-4 NKJV.

Read the Psalms. David experienced all that you will and probably more, yet found that God is always there to save and satisfy. See Psalm 91. Some years ago, Gayle and I had a terrible auto accident. It was not a danger we could have anticipated nor avoided. Driving at highway speeds on a city street, a drunk driver crossed into our lane striking our car head-on. Because there was a fatality, an investigator reconstructed the accident. His conclusion? There was no natural explanation how we survived such a collision. God “redeemed our lives from destruction.”

I awakened in the ICU about 36 hours after reconstructive, facial surgery. Though still groggy and dazed, I awakened to know that sometime while still unconscious there was a gentle word to my heart. I simply knew, as though I had heard the words audibly, “Tonight the devil tried to take your life, but I am with you.” God redeemed my life from destruction. God would satisfy our lives with good things, as He said; and He has, more than we could have imagined. See Jeremiah 29:11.

Yet the worst thing God ever saved me from was my sins, and His salvation alone would be sufficiently satisfying. More than any adversity that occurs, the greatest destroyer of life is your own sin and disobedience. Sin can steal more from you than any trouble or misfortune ever could. That’s how and where He truly “redeems your life from destruction.” This world is too frightening without Jesus in your life. And life is incomplete without “all His benefits . . Who crowns with you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things.”

My prayer for you today is that you never live without the One who saves and satisfies.

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Something Else

July 8th, 2009

“Be satisfied with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5

If you are not content with what you have, more of the same will not make you so.”

My thoughts today are about “something else.”

A person often thinks that something else will make then more content – to have something else, to be somewhere else, to do something else. That “something else” is usually very non-specific and always elusive. Most people could never tell you exactly what it is they feel that they lack – having some money or more money, having a good job or getting a better job, finding a spouse or wanting a different spouse, buying a house or moving up to a nicer house.  Whatever they have, they aren’t satisfied without something else, whatever they think that might be. That’s not a good or happy way to live, is it?

As a comedian observed, “Wherever I go, there I am!” If you are not content with what you have, more of the same will not make you so. Being content does not suggest that you don’t care about having anything more; that would be more passivity than satisfaction. Contentment seems to be a willingness to accept the moment as it is, while wanting and working for something better. Contentment may just mean that you have learned to appreciate what you have, because you can trust God to bless you with what you ought to have.

It doesn’t matter where you look, or what you get, happiness and satisfaction will not be magically found somewhere else. It is always found on the inside, in your own heart and mind. Paul wrote young Timothy with this advice “I have learned . . to be content. “ Philippians 4:11. Notice the accent of that verse. Contentment is not something that happens to you; it is a lesson learned, if you have a heart to desire its truth.

So how does one learn contentment? All learning is a process. You learn from experience that sufficiency means satisfaction, and little by little you discover that sufficiency involves a lot less than you thought. You don’t need everything you want, or see someone else having. You learn that God can be trusted. He puts desires in your heart, not to frustrate you, but to motivate you to be more rather than just accept having more.

The “something else” that you think you need is really Someone else, the true Source of sufficiency and satisfaction. “It is better to have little, with fear of the Lord, than to have great treasure with turmoil.” Proverbs 15:16. Jesus taught, One’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15.

Things and wealth are not wrong, nor does the Bible disparage their ownership, but Jesus does warn of the “deceitfulness of riches.” Matthew 13:22. Paul writes of “uncertain riches” and advises “set (your) hope on God Who richly provides all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18. Only a heart at rest in God is fully satisfied.

My prayer for you today is: never chase what is elusive, and unsatisfying even if gained.

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