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Success with Satisfaction

January 22nd, 2016

“Our only power and success come from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT.

Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success with satisfaction.”

Success is a more complex subject than might first be assumed. Sir Winston Churchill captured the process as, “moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Ultimately, success requires an untiring enthusiasm and expectation. Let success be your goal, but make satisfaction your measurement of success.

Success is a common, even innate, desire of the human spirit. God wills your success. About that fact, the Bible is clear. “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NASB. God wills you to enjoy financial sufficiency, ample health and strength, measured by a singular standard, “as your soul prospers.” “Our only power and success come from God.” Read 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 TLB. Apart from the spiritual dimension, whatever measure of success you achieve will be unsatisfactory. Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

Do not let the world around you dictate what success is for you. The apparent success of others may mislead you into assuming your success will look like theirs. The Bible warned, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV. The world measures success by tangible acquisitions, notable achievements, popular approval, others’ applause, or material gain. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT. The world’s standards are different from what God values.

You must decide to which you will give irreplaceable years of effort, energy, and expense. Establish your personal definition of success. Without Godly benchmarks for measuring, you may not know when you achieve it or recognize when you have not. Contentment and satisfaction with what you achieve is a more reliable measurement of success than the tangible rewards that result.

For me, where I find the greatest satisfaction and most prize any measure of “success” are family and ministry. I will count Gayle’s and my success by the fruit of our family’s lives, the faith and values we hold in common, enjoying and loving one another’s company, and our mutual love and service for the Lord and His Church. Our family is central to my definition of success with satisfaction.

As for ministry, I evaluate ministry on the twin bases of obedience and faithfulness to God’s call, having done what He asked and been faithful where He placed me. Honest appraisal reminds me that God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been the source of success.

Today, I pray for you to measure success by the satisfaction you find in doing God’s will.

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Wholesome Words

August 31st, 2012

“What you say can preserve life or destroy it.” Proverbs 18:21 TEV

A cleansed heart is the source of a wholesome vocabulary.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wholesome words.”

My fourth grade teacher put a fascinating book into my hands that would shape and equip my adult life, though its significance was unbeknownst to me at the time. That book was about etymology, “the study of the sources and development of words,” that cultivated my appreciation for language. As is often said, “Words mean something.” That’s true all the time, not just when you intend for your words to mean something. Words carry a weightiness you can easily fail to realize even at the time you are speaking them. In conversations, you leave blessing or turmoil. Your words can validate or invalidate a person to whom or about whom you speak. I want my words to lift lives, not diminish them.

Know this about words; words inspire or dishearten; they induce healing or inflict trauma. Hearts have been wooed and won by tender, loving words, as well as mortally wounded by angry, hurtful words. With words, endearing friendships or enduring enemies are formed. Solomon wisely observed, “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequence of your words” Proverbs 18:21 TEV. In perilous times, national leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill have, with their words, rallied nations to great courage and sacrifice, while Adolph Hitler’s words spawned unparalleled hatred and evil in the soul of a generation of Nazi Germany, bringing devastating destruction across a continent. See Proverbs 12:18 NKJV.

Consider with me the spiritual etymology of your words, their “source and development.” Have you ever thought to yourself, “Where did that come from?” Your words are consequential and reflect their source. See Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV. A wise person weighs their words carefully, or better yet, prayerfully. Before speaking, you should weigh your words because others will, and God does. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things . .” Read Matthew 12:34-35 NKJV. A cleansed heart is the source of a wholesome vocabulary. Monitoring what comes out of your mouth is less difficult when you guard what is in your heart.

A friend recently commented about another that, “They had lost their filter.” They were describing a person who frequently indulged themselves in saying what they thought, without regard to their words’ propriety, origin, or effect. Speaking your own mind isn’t always best if you want to have friends, or be one. Filters are important. “May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NLT. The words you speak are too relationally important and eternally consequential to be handled casually, without careful examination and prayerful forethought.

The Bible teaches, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths . . that it may benefit those who listen.” Read Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV. Their effect on others is the standard by which words are judged. Do your words pass that Bible test? “Do not be rash with your mouth . . therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV. You will experience a lot less regret.

My prayer for you today is that your communication is always honoring and edifying.

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Words

January 30th, 2012

“Your words are what sustain me . . they are my heart’s delight.” Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

“The Bible wisely advises you to value the economy of words.”

My thoughts today are about “words.”

Words shape understandings; words communicate thoughts, ideas, and actions to one another, facilitating relationships and coordinating efforts. Words have inherent power. Words are the expression of both mind and heart. With words you communicate with God Almighty and converse with children and men. Use words well and speak them wisely. Words possess enduring power to linger in people’s lives long after they are spoken. My friends comment on how often I repeat the words of my Dad or friends whose practical wisdom still influence my life. Words you speak and hear shape the person you are becoming, for better or worse.

Words make cowards of the bravest or can inspire ordinary people to lofty achievements. Who will forget Abraham Lincoln’s words at the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, battlefield, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,” or Sir Winston Churchill’s words to a battered, British nation, “Never in the field of conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” or General Douglas MacArthur’s WWII unbroken promise to the Philippines, “I shall return, or the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Words mean something and deeply resonate in the psyche and souls of men.

With words, a person communicates with others, confesses errors, comforts the sorrowing, counsels the puzzled, chastens the wayward, and commits themselves to greater purpose. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 NIV. Noting the inherent power of words, the Bible wisely advises you to value the economy of words, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God . . therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV. Foolish and less than accurate words discount every other word that you speak. If people cannot believe all that you say, how will they know to believe anything that you say? Speak the truth in love to all others at all times. See Ephesians 4:15-16/29 NKJV.

But now, let’s consider the importance and power of God’s word. Read Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV. It is interesting that God created all that we see and enjoy with just His spoken word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.” John 1:1 NKJV/Hebrews 11:3 NIV.

In the worst of his trouble, Job said, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12 KJV. In such life-shaping times you do not need your own or others’ opinions, you need a word from the Lord – wisdom that restores your faith and directs you forward. Would your life and faith be better and stronger if you spent more time honoring God’s Word and living according to its truth? Then why do people find so little time and give secondary priority to reading, studying, and knowing the Word of God everyday? The prophet Jeremiah placed the highest value on God’s words. “Your words are what sustain me. They bring me great joy and are my heart’s delight.” Jeremiah 15:16 NLT. The Word of God is not all it should be in your life until it is your “great joy and heart’s delight!”

My prayer for you today is that you build your life on every word God speaks.

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Words Create Worlds

December 8th, 2010

“The lips of the Godly speak helpful words.” Proverbs 10:32 NLT

Words create worlds in our hearts and minds more real than the one in which we live.”

My thoughts today are that “words create worlds.”

Helpful; that’s what you want to be, isn’t it? Why not start with the simplest thing you do everyday, and do most of every day? “The lips of the Godly speak helpful words.” Proverbs 10:32 NLT. Your words have unequaled power to be helpful or hurtful.

My friend, Andrew, recently said to me, “Words create worlds in our hearts and minds more real than the one in which we live.” That being true, use them well and speak them wisely! Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you bring God’s life-giving spirit.” John 6:63 TEV. Words create a world around you that is better, or worse; you choose which.

Words arouse love, or words can foment hate. Words inspire virtue, or words also soil the soul. Words can heal, or words can wound deeply. Entire nations have been stirred to unmatched courage and sacrifice, as was Great Britain by the eloquence of Sir Winston Churchill; and nations have been driven to unconscionable evil and cruelty, as was Nazi Germany by the ranting of Adolph Hitler. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21 NKJV.

Growing up in southern Illinois, I often heard my Mom say, “If you can’t say something good, it’s better not to say anything at all.” Many years later, life has taught me that she was right. Have you ever said something that you wish you hadn’t? I think the answer for any one of us would have to be a resounding, “Yes.”

Maybe you remember a time you spoke angry, hurtful words, feeling justified at the moment but regretted later. Maybe you launched an unfounded accusation, which you found to be inaccurate soon after doing so. Or maybe you passed on hurtful information about someone that turned out not as true as you had believed it to be. Imagine how much better you would feel, if you just hadn’t said anything at all.

There have been times when I have regretted what I haven’t said, when I could and should have expressed thankfulness, or given a compliment, or offered an explanation, or spoken praise for a job well done. But there are many more times that I wish I hadn’t said what I did, or would not have said things when, and how, and to whom I chose to say them. It is good to learn that everything you think, and every time you feel like saying what you think, is not necessarily the right thing to do, or the best way or time to do so. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Paul established wise guidelines for Godly relationships that apply well to your conversations, “You can say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is helpful. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is beneficial. Don’t think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NLT.

From those  verses you can learn: speak words that are helpful to others, not hurtful. “Let your conversation be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NIV; speak words that are beneficial, not detrimental. “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.” Proverbs 15:4 The Message; speak words that are best, not worst. “Use . . only helpful words, that kind that build up, so that what you say will do good for those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29 TEV. Your words should make others feel better, not yourself. The supreme guideline? See Psalm 19:14 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that your words speak well of yourself and your faith.

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