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Posts Tagged ‘Saul’

Priceless

March 21st, 2018

Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless.

 “Everything is worthless when compared with knowing Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:8 NLT

My thoughts today are about things that are, “priceless.”

Priceless things do not always come with a price tag. Yesterday, I received a few digital copies of old family photographs. The originals from which they were copied were tattered by time, but immeasurably valuable to me. They were glimpses of our family history and heritage, my paternal grandparents, including my sister and I with our New York cousins. And a photo of my uncle Ralph, a proud marine who never returned from WW2. Another was of my parents as a young couple, apparently taken before I was born.  And one of my sister on her first birthday. Those pictures would be noteworthy to no one other than our family and myself. But to me, they are priceless.

Everyone has some things that hold special meaning tucked away safely or secretly somewhere. Such objects are rarely viewed as costly or valuable to anyone else. But to that one to whom they belong they are prized possessions. Usually, our valuable things are tucked securely in safe deposit boxes or may be paraded proudly and publicly before friends and neighbors as signs of our success, such as houses, cars, jewelry, college degrees, awards of recognition, expensive recreational toys, and things like that. None of those are bad on their own; none of them good enough on their own.

The Apostle Paul listed many proud achievements about which he could brag and boast. “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Read Philippians  3:7-8 NLT.

Paul successfully checked off all the required boxes of religious, social, and political success. Those prized accomplishments identified who he was, how well he had done, and how important he was. But when he added it all up, he saw the inadequacy and emptiness of all that. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:18 NIV.

“Breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” Saul asked for and received letters of authority from the High Priest to imprison those troublesome followers of the recently crucified Jesus. Read Acts 9:1-5 NIV. While enroute to Damascus, Saul dramatically encountered the Risen Christ and viewed everything that he once counted as his life’s net worth, as worthless. Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless. After his traumatic encounter with Christ, Paul’s singular, surpassing purpose became his passion to know Jesus personally and intimately.

Paul wrote, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-10 NLT/NKJV. While in college, “That I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection,” became my life-verse; it still remains so today.

What prized possessions do you hold in a tight grip, or those that hold you in an even tighter grip? There are things that money cannot buy. Can anything at all actually compare with the true wealth of knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord? “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, Who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18 NIV. Christ alone is priceless.

Today I pray for you to allow nothing and no one to become as important to you as Jesus.

 

Christian Communications 2018-4610

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Priority, Passion, and Purpose

March 29th, 2017

 

Desire determines your direction

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

My thoughts today are about, “priority, passion, and purpose.”

You will seek what is important to you. Time and priority evidence your values. I met my wife, Gayle, in the Spring of my second year of college. I sought every opportunity to be where she was. As she became increasingly important to me, I made time and sought occasion to enjoy her company. I sought to be with her as much as I could. I pursued her favor. Soon, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. And, as they say, the rest is history. Passion settles priority. God is not elusive, but seeking Him necessitates an undivided heart and singleness of mind.

Saul became Israel’s choice as their first King, but he was not God’s choice. Saul was impressive. The Bible described Him as, “head and shoulders over all the men of Israel.” 1 Samuel 10:23 NLT. But there was a problem the people could not see, but God did. Eventually, “God replaced [Saul as King of Israel] with David, a man about whom God said, ‘David, son of Jesse, is a man after My own heart, for he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 NLT. God’s explanation was simple and direct, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.

In David, God found a God-seeking heart. David wrote, “One thing I have desired of the Lord; this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4 NIV. Do you want to have a heart like David’s? In this verse, David provided three practical keys.

[1] Recognize the power of priority. David determined, “One thing I ask of the Lord.” Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV. If you seek too many things you may miss the One that is most essential. Knowing the Lord is primary; all other things are secondary. Priority eliminates competition.

[2] Develop a purity of passion. David had a singular devotion, “I have desired of the Lord.” What do you really want your life to be about? What do you value above all else? Desire determines your direction. Jesus said, “the first and great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Matthew 22:37 NKJV. When you establish your passion, you will know where to invest your energies, and commit your abilities, and give your best effort. When seeking God is your great passion, your search governs your attention and direction. God promised, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.

[3] Preserve a singularity of purpose. David was clear, “This is what I seek.” Avoid distraction. “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13 NIV. Purpose decides what you should do and what you should not. When other things are alluring, remember your purpose. “Anyone who comes to God must believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. God will be found of you.

Today I pray for you to be clear about the desire and direction of your life.

Christian Communications 2017

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Betrayal

February 24th, 2016

“I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Hurting people hurt others.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “betrayal.”

Betrayal is a harsh word but not a new occurrence. Everyone has felt the sting of misunderstanding, misjudgment, or unfair treatment. The experience is as old and common as time itself. Feelings of betrayal necessitate a relationship that holds positive expectations. Betrayal feels personal and usually is. David felt the sting of personal betrayal – from Saul, his king; Absalom, his son; and Ahithophel, his trusted friend and adviser. “Even my close friend (Ahithophel), whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9 NIV. David understood his own frailties and failures and forgave others as he had been forgiven. (As an interesting and relevant side note, scholars believe Ahithophel to be the father of Eliam and grandfather of Bathsheba. Might that grandfather’s disloyalty relate to David’s behavior with Bathsheba?) Betrayal of others breeds betrayal toward oneself.

Strangers or enemies cannot betray you; your expectations of the first are minimal, of the latter their unkindness is assumed. Friends and family hold unique power to inflict emotional pain. To one degree or another, friction happens in homes, at work, and even in churches. Sadly, it happens in marriages, families, and with friends or mere acquaintances. Hurting people hurt others. Knowingly or unknowingly, fallen people living in a fallen world inflict their hurts and unhappiness upon the lives of those around them. It’s usually about themselves, not the other person. Their pain causes their words and actions. It splashes out on whoever happens by.

Emotions of betrayal come in all forms and sizes, from annoyance to distress. Something as small as an unintended slight or something as large as intentional slander can both create feelings of betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus. Matthew 27:3-5. Peter denied Jesus. Matthew 26:75. Thomas doubted Jesus. John 20:25. The disciples abandoned Jesus. Matthew 26:56. The crowds left Jesus. John 6:66-69. In differing measures, Jesus was betrayed and felt its pain, yet offered forgiveness and restoration of fellowship to each. Imagine Paul’s personal disappointment and pain as he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. But God’s Word provides this assurance, “We have [a High Priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV. Jesus heals all hurts.

Betrayal is a word or action that causes emotional pain, eliciting strong reactions in return. It can be an action toward you as well as a reaction to you. As a teen, when I tried to justify hurting someone who had hurt me, my Dad would remind me, “Two wrongs never make a right.” Imperfect grammar, but he was right, of course. Obviously, there are two questions you are wise to consider. Felt betrayed by someone? Forgive, surrendering your pain to Jesus. Betrayed another’s confidence in you? Consider their pain.

When you have been betrayed, forgive. There is no better choice. Forgiving is for your benefit as much as theirs. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Read Colossians 3:13-14 NIV. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Read Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

When you have betrayed, ask to be forgiven. There alone you find redemption. Read Matthew 5:23-24 NIV. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Read Ephesians 1:7-8 NKJV. Read Romans 4:7-8 NIV. God’s promise is true, “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to always trust the faithfulness of God to heal and forgive.

EDL broken trust

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016
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The Last Word

April 23rd, 2014

“I am God . . declaring the end from the beginning.” Isaiah 46:10 NKJV.

Be wary of allowing a presumption to become your conclusion.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the last word.”

There will always be a few people who always need to have the last word. They propose to be the final authority on all matters. They must be thought right and others wrong. They expect their opinions to be generally accepted as the best ones. Life doesn’t really work that way in lasting and meaningful relationships. In life, I have learned that the final word is rarely, if ever, yours or mine to give. Life works better, and you and others are happier, when you are content to trust God to have the last word. He does, and will, so why not rest in His righteousness and wisdom?

“For I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’” Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV. God alone knows and declares the end from the beginning. He alone has the last word in your life and over your circumstances, past, present, and future. “According to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will.” Read Ephesians 1:3-12 NIV. What God says matters most.

Leave plenty of room in your life and circumstance for God to do as He will, and be as generous to allow the same for others. “From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh . . if anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation . .” Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-18 NKJV. You are not yet a finished project. Until God speaks, the last word has not been spoken about what you can be or do.

Others may remind you of your failure; God affirms you are forgiven. You may know what you can’t do; remember what God can do. Until you include God, people and things may not be as they could be. Likewise, others do not have the last word about you; God reserves that privilege for Himself. To be encouraged, look up every Scripture that includes, “But God . .” There are plenty.

David ran from King Saul’s evil intent for harm. “Saul sought David every day, but God did not deliver him into Saul’s hand.” 1 Samuel 23:14. David confessed his own weakness, “My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart.” Psalm 73:26. Joseph’s brothers abandoned him; he was wrongly imprisoned on false accusations, “But God was with Him.” Acts 7:9. Listen to Joseph’s own testimony, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result.” Genesis 50:20.

In your lifetime, there may be a lot said to you, about you, or against you. But all that does not matter because your Father will have the last word. Easter is a timely reminder that nothing is hopeless, no circumstance final, nor distress unchangeable. “They took Jesus down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29. His disciples saw His cruel and public death, watched his lifeless body being buried and the tomb sealed and guarded.

Some disciples headed back home. Others returned to their former pursuits. Some felt too lost to do much of anything yet. Be wary of allowing a presumption to become your conclusion. “But God raised Him from the dead.” Acts 13:30. No one expected that. But God had the last word; how appropriate for the One who declares, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you not confuse presumptions with conclusions.

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Stillness

January 25th, 2013

There is a quality of spiritual life that is found only in solitude and stillness.

“Stand still first . . to hear the Word of God.” 1 Samuel 9:27 Amplified Bible.

While young Saul unsuccessfully searched for his father’s lost donkeys, God spoke to Samuel of Saul’s coming and of God’s purpose for him. Read 1 Samuel 9. Little did Saul know that Samuel’s intention was to anoint a king for Israel, and Saul was to be the one. As Saul prepared to continue on his quest, Samuel interrupted him, “Stand still first, that I may cause you to hear the Word of God.” 1 Samuel 9:27 Amplified Bible. God’s Word to Saul would direct his success, provide sustenance on his journey, offer assuring confirmation, and divine empowering for his calling. “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you . . and you will be turned into another man . . God gave [Saul] another heart.” 1 Samuel 10:6/9 NKJV. A different man with a new heart because he took time to listen to the word of God! Like Saul, you cannot afford moments when busyness would otherwise engage you. Maybe today you need to hear someone remind you to “stand still . . to hear the Word of God.”

In a busy and noisy world, lives are hurried and listening is impaired. The problems are these: temporal busyness can distract from things and times of eternal importance, and without respite, noise drowns out God’s hushed voice to the heart. The psalmist writes of natural calamities, nations in conflict, and civil unrest but concludes with God’s assuring instruction, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NKJV. There is truth you cannot know in your desperate situations unless you silence questions and complaints, and settle your heart quiet and still before Him. There and then, in your storm and struggle Jesus will say with indisputable authority, “’Peace, be still!’ and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39 NKJV.

The prophet Elijah panicked, running from angry, wicked Jezebel until exhausted, where in fear and fatigue he met God. Read 1 Kings 19:11-21. The prophet faced a howling wind, then a ground-rattling earthquake, and afterward a consuming fire, but the Lord was not present in any of those. “And after the fire a still small voice . . and the Lord said unto him . .” There was a new assignment, and a divine commission to accomplish it. Drama and activity are not where you find God. In your rush for God to “fix it,” you can refuse to see how God is already working. While you once again tell God every detail about your need, you are not listening to His gentle wisdom and direction for the path ahead. A content heart and quiet spirit hear God’s voice and understand His will best. Consider God’s explanation of how life works best, “In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 NIV.

There is both physical and spiritual stillness. I think the latter necessitates the first, and the latter is the more important. There is a quality of spiritual life that is only found in solitude and stillness. David understood the importance of such moments; “I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother . . [so] is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:1-2 NLT. But sometimes the occasion and situation do not seem to allow that. What do you do then? Again, David discovered God in the context of dark times, fearful evil, and surrounding enemies, “He leads me beside the still[ed] waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2-3 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will take time to listen for God with your heart.

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