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The Secret to Success

April 27th, 2018

Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today discuss, “The secret to success.”

Someone or something must be first when you have more than one choice or consideration. Who, or what, will be the priority and first consideration in your life? That question is one that every one of us need to answer for life to work as it should. You can try to make life work on your terms, but the Bible consistently declares this eternal principle for success in life, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6 TLB.

Each day requires you to ask and answer this all-important question, “Is Jesus Lord of my life in the most practical, everyday ways?” More than any other single factor, your sincere answer determines how you will live your life, and therefore the measure of real and lasting success that you can achieve. Your truthful answer to the single question predisposes your answer to other questions that will arise during your life.

Jesus’ words teach several, simple truths. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Read Matthew 6:25-34 NIV. No success is true success until God crowns your efforts. Your best is still inadequate without God’s blessing added to it.

Whatever you achieve, and however many voices loudly acclaim and admire your resulting rewards, there is only voice that matters eternally. God’s estimation of your work is all that matters eternally. At the end of your life, only His “Well done” will be all that matters in eternity.

In this life, success requires your best efforts, consistently and long term. No halfhearted attempt, no working when you feel like it will do. You must give God something deserving of His blessing. To do that, there will be many lesser things for which you will not have time. There will be cost and sacrifice. Success cannot be bought cheaply, nor does it come easily. Most importantly, in every day and in everything, you have to, “put God first!” I learned a simple reality. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

When Abraham left all he had known to follow God to a place he did not know, he was putting God first. See Genesis 12: 1-8 NKJV. When Joseph fled from the seductress without regard to the consequences, he was putting God first. See Genesis 39:7-21 NKJV. When Moses stood before Pharaoh demanding the release of Israel, he was putting God first. See Exodus 5:1-3 NKJV.

When David placed his faith in God when facing the defiant Goliath, he was putting God first. See 1 Samuel 17:40-51 NKJV. When the three Hebrew slaves would not compromise and bow to worship the King’s image, they were putting God first. See Daniel 3:1-18 NKJV. When Daniel could not obey the King’s command, he was putting God first. See Daniel 6:3-23 NKJV. When Jesus embraced the cross to die for yours and my sins, He was putting God first. See John 12:23-28 NKJV. True to His Word, God crowned their obedience and faith with success, as He will yours.

The secret to success is found in knowing and obeying God’s Word and always doing what’s right, even when success may appear to be found in a different direction. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 NIV.

Again, I pose the question with which I began, “Who, or what, will be the priority and first consideration in your life?” The only One that can ever be first and foremost is Jesus, your Lord and Savior. Triumphantly, Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV. He reigns, and He is Lord of all!

Today I pray for you to seek the success that God alone can provide.

Christian Communications 2018-708

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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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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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Lost Things

March 2nd, 2016

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV.

A lost soul is the worst and unrecoverable loss of all.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “lost things.”

Everyone misplaces something at some time. Eventually, you may even be unsure where or when it was lost. And if too much time passes before realizing your loss, that item is more likely to remain lost. Upon realizing you have lost something, you determine if the value of the absent item is worth the time and effort of replacing it or looking for it. Sometimes it is more than an item that was lost. Marriages and families are lost by distraction and inattention. Friendships are lost by neglect or busyness. Opportunities are forfeited by procrastination or aversion to risk and failure. At such times, inaction is costly.

Jesus was a great story-teller. The Gospels are replete with stories about ordinary and extraordinary people. His stories were practical and helpful, revealing truth and providing instruction to the wise. Among the best, most familiar, and beloved of those, Jesus told multiple stories about a single theme – lost things. Read Luke 15:1-31 NKJV. The theme is appropriate to the Savior who understood His calling and commission, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV. See John 3:17 NKJV. As is true with lost things, people can’t find themselves; they have to be found.

In Luke’s account of Jesus’ stories, a wandering sheep was lost, a valuable coin was lost, a prodigal son was lost, a valuable opportunity was lost, and importantly, irreplaceable years were lost. In all but one instance, Jesus’ stories conclude with festive celebration and rejoicing.

In the first example of the lost sheep, neither the neglect of the shepherd nor the intention of the sheep is at fault. That one sheep simply wandered, not knowing it was lost nor finding its way home. Endangered and defenseless, the sheep was dependent on the shepherd, who spared no time or effort in finding and returning the straying sheep to the safety of the fold and the company of the flock. Vs. 4-7.

In Jesus’ next story, a single coin of minimal value was misplaced. Though nine other coins remained, extensive effort was made to find an otherwise insignificant coin, yet valued by its owner. She made every effort, searching relentlessly until it was found. Vs. 8-10.

In the final story, something more valuable than sheep or coins was lost; a valuable inheritance was squandered by a young son. In that process, a cherished son was lost whose heart drew him far away from his home and family where he misused and lost all that he had been given. Vs. 11-16. Jesus’ question is haunting, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 NKJV. A lost soul is the greatest, unrecoverable loss of all.

Fortunately, the story does not end there. When the Prodigal came to his senses, he went home to his father. I love Jesus’ words, “While he was still a long way off . . his father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Vs. 20. I love the image of the Father running to meet and envelop the returning prodigal with loving, joyful embrace. His reception even exceeded the regret of the penitent son. I am reminded of Poet Robert Frost’s perceptive description of home. “Home is the place where when you go there they have to let you in.”  Ultimately, Jesus’ story is about coming home in humility and repentance where you will find forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and rejoicing. Vs. 17-24. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NIV.

But not to be overlooked, Jesus’ story is also about the immense loss a father suffered by the failure of both of his sons to understand and value their father’s immeasurable love and generosity. “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31 NIV. Our Heavenly Father’s heart remains unchanged, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to know the enduring love and faithful care of the Good Shepherd.

Christian Communications 2016
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EDL Welcoming Prodigal

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A Place for You

February 27th, 2016

A place for you Puzzle

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High abides under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek.

My thoughts and comments are about, “a place for you.”

Too many people spend a lot of life looking for the right place. Some eventually succeed; many never find that place however long and hard they have looked. They never find the friends they wanted, the marriage they assumed would be theirs, the city they love, or the job for which they dreamed. If you look for the wrong things, you invest a lot of time and energy on a fool’s errand. Some look for right things but in wrong places.

My friend, Dick, describes the Gospel this way, “Jesus left His place, to come to your place, to take your place, to take you to His place.” To His worried disciples Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there shall you be also.” John 14:2-3 NKJV. God’s plan has not changed; God has a place prepared for His people, and that begins here and now as well. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

Here’s some special things about that sacred, secret place in God. There you will find, “a large place [of deliverance]” Psalm 18:19 KJV, “a hiding place” Psalm 32:7 NIV, “a place [of abundance]” Psalm 66:12 NIV, “a broad place [without fear]” Psalm 118:5-6 NKJV, “a place [of one accord]” Acts 2:1 NKJV, and “a place of inheritance” Hebrews 11:8 NIV. Is there any better place? Find the place God has just for you. He knows the spouse to complement you, the friends you need, the job you’ll love, and where you will find the greatest joy and fulfillment. Before God created Adam, He prepared a wonderful, perfect place for him, a garden of beauty and plenty. Read Genesis 2:8-17 NKJV. He would not do less for you.

If you know all that is good that is in God’s place for you, why would you look for sustenance and satisfaction elsewhere? Sin may at first appear appealing, but it brings only temporary happiness. I have observed some consequences about sin. Sin costs you more than you expected to pay, takes you further than you meant to go, keeps you longer than you planned to stay, and leaves you where you never expected to be. That is not where you find life more abundantly. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would leave with the crowd, Peter got it right, “Too whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 NIV. Find your place in God’s grace, will, and purpose, and be settled there with unwavering confidence, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” Genesis 28:16 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to abide where grace and goodness abounds.

Christian Communications 2016-9217
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