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Posts Tagged ‘Solomon’

Life and Legacy

January 25th, 2019

Satisfaction is in God alone.
“Guard your heart above all else.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT.
My thoughts and comments today are about, “Life and Legacy.”

 

 

Life can get upside down and sometimes backwards. One of those ways that can happen when you believe the world’s model of greatness. It is assumed that the one who appears to exceed others’ abilities and achievements must be smarter, stronger, tougher, and more widely regarded. Inaccurately we reason, maybe somehow, they have more importance than others. In the world’s system that might be so.

But in the Kingdom of God, greatness is described as joyfully and generously serving others. Jesus taught that a satisfying life is about serving God and others, not placing yourself above and before others. Jesus warned, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Read Mark 9:33-37 NIV. Paul was clear, “For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18.

Worldly-wise people can do spiritually foolish things. Solomon was the wisest of men, but his excess eventually overcame the wisdom with which he had begun, and to which he would return. He was given exceeding wealth, privilege, and prominence that provided everything he could desire. Yet his unbridled restraint provided unwise opportunity to explore anything his heart desired.

But Solomon finally recognized it all as vanity that created nothing more than futility and emptiness. More stuff just can’t satisfy. Never has. Never will. Because things alone are unsatisfying, they seem to leave an emptiness that the human heart tries to fill with lesser things.

That emptiness happens too easily, almost without notice at first. Without Godly wisdom, a person can become confused by things that seem important but are inconsequential. Solomon discovered, “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction . . during the few days of life God has given them.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 NIV. Satisfaction is found in God alone.

God’s Word is clear about what demands attention and what deserves your attention. People are always God’s priority – before things, even the best of things. Above all else that clamors for your attention and affections, God and family always merit your first and best.

Life is not about the external matters of, “what you do.” Goodness is internal, “why you do what you do.” Goodness is all about who you are. It begins in your heart. Jesus said, “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Read Luke 6:43-45 NLT.

Solomon advised, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. And being who you can be has everything to do with your willingness and invitation to place Christ first and foremost in your heart. When Jesus has His rightful place, life is right side up and in spiritual order. Could that be why they describe good people as, “upright and upstanding?”

Your life can be your greatest legacy, and an abiding Godly example for your family and friends to follow. There is no inheritance you will leave behind that would exceed the heritage of your Godly instruction and personal example. Today, I pray for you to keep eternal values preeminent in your life.

Christian Communications 2019
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Plans and Steps

May 8th, 2018

LIFE IS BEST WHEN GOD IS FIRST.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Plans and Steps.”

A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well, and a plan that is not clear, and manageable on some daily basis, will not lead to success. A plan is like GPS. You first choose your desired destination. Then a plan is formulated as the best way to get there. That could and should be applied to everyday life. A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well. And any plan that is not clear and manageable on some daily basis will not lead to success. Some years ago, a simple yet practical strategy became popular, “Plan the work; work the plan.” Solomon learned that, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 NLT. That remains wise advice in any circumstance.

When you plan, you visualize the priority and time required for the various matters requiring your efforts. When you neglect those moments to think through a day’s responsibilities, you find yourself busy but less productive. Without a plan for the day, energy is misspent, and efforts are less effective. Attention is easily divvied and distracted. Time is poorly allocated. I have learned that important things are often replaced by alternatives that seem easier and more immediately enjoyable.

Direction is necessary for production. Now, let’s look at this on a larger scale with more eternal consequence. This principle especially applies to your spiritual life, as well as your daily life. Those two are inseparable, by the way. You will be more successful at the latter, when you succeed at the former. You cannot successfully compartmentalize your life into differing categories, seasons, or circumstances, in some of which you retain operational control while in others you are expecting God to direct and bless. Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. Jesus made this clear, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

Often, my Dad reminded me, “Allen, first things first!” It’s very simple really. First, you work, then you play. First, you save, then you spend. First, you seek God’s plan, then you follow His plan. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Read Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT. You and your wellbeing have been in God’s plans from the beginning and continue to be.

Life is best when God is first. God has the definitive plan for your life. Scripture is consistent. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. Through prayer and Scripture, let God plan your work. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

That being true, then devote yourself to knowing and following His plan. That is called obedience, a priority to God and a necessity for your success. Obedience will supply you with the necessary focus and ability you do not otherwise possess. Obedience will produce opportunities you neither earned nor expected. And obedience will yield achievement you do not imagine. God’s direction is always accurate; His timing is always exact; His results are always abundant.

Today I pray for you to discover God’s purpose in all you do and with all you have.

Christian Communications 2018-1308

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Success with Satisfaction

October 27th, 2017

Satisfaction is measured by accomplishment not reward.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Success with Satisfaction.”

God created you to succeed. And that should be your goal. A desire to succeed is common to the human heart. No one makes plans to fail but many fail to plan. But first, you need to know how you define success? Without that, how do you even measure success? It is important that you determine your personal definition of success and that should be founded on God’s Word. If you don’t have benchmarks for measuring achievement, how will you know when you accomplish it, or recognize when you fail to do so? It is tragic to allow other people’s opinions to dictate what true success should be for you.

You will invest a lifetime of effort and energy to achieve fulfillment and meaning. A good  question to ask yourself is, “When I get where I’m going and have what I’m wanting, where will I be and what will I have?” Too many people end up with full pockets but have an empty heart. Solomon offered sage advice, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV. Success with satisfaction begins in your heart.

Will wealth and possessions be your proof of success? The applause or acclaim of others? Some time ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said. “At the end, the one with the most toys wins!” But do they? True success must be so much more than having the biggest pile of unnecessary stuff. God’s Word says, “Each one should be careful how he builds. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is. The fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV. Eternal values differ immensely from what the world values.

I think that satisfaction, and contentment with what you achieve, is a more reliable measurement of success than the weight of public opinion or the tangible and external rewards of one’s accomplishments. Success without satisfaction is a myth. Where you find your supreme fulfillment is where you will find your greater success.

“[Blessed is the man who is] like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Read Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. What a great promise! For me, the arenas where I intend to succeed, find satisfaction, and most prize any success are in the opportunities and responsibilities of family, friends, and ministry.

As regards Family, I will evaluate success by the Godly fruit to be found in our children and grandchildren, and the generations who will follow them. I will measure the faith and values we hold in common, the times we love and enjoy one another’s company, and our family’s continued love and service for the Lord. However anyone else chooses to evaluate my success, our family is central to my definition of success or disappointment.

As regards friends, life is richer because of the example, encouragement, and fellowship of friends who share life and faith with you. Life can be lonely, even unfulfilling without people who gladly share your joys and sorrows.

As regards ministry, I choose to evaluate success based on obedience and faithfulness to God’s call and meaningful service to God’s people. I am grateful for whatever measure of outward success that we have experienced these fifty plus years of pastoral ministry, but in my heart, I know that whatever success might be attributed to us, God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been its true source.

So, I will thank God, my family, and friends, and celebrate every year of blessing and privilege extended to us. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Read Galatians 6:8-10 NIV. My prayer for you encompasses all you are and all you do.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. It all starts in in your heart of hearts where, “your soul prospers.”

Today, I pray for you to not waste time on empty dreams but instead pursue God’s will.

Christian Communications 2017

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Your Plans or His?

December 14th, 2016

God has a hope-filled future for you; plan accordingly.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV

My thoughts and comments today ask, “your plans or His?”

Plans. Plans connect you to your future, or at least you suppose they will. Everyone makes them and should, but not every plan comes to fruition. We are somewhat limited. We know the past, even if we have not learned from it. And we are fairly aware of the present, even when we are not as fully engaged as we should be. But as to the future, we can only guess. That limitation makes even your best plans incomplete.

The philosophy of our secular culture is, “Plan your work and work your plan.” But where is God in that advice? I heard a person described as, “not having an eraser.” As I got to know them better, I realized the accuracy of their description. They were not at all flexible. The Psalmist described the tragedy of people whose plans fail to include God. “When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment, all their plans come to an end.” Psalm 146:4 NLT. Life is wasted by those who do not put God first in their plans. Why waste time, energy, or irreplaceable resource on plans that fail to include God?

Make sure your plans touch eternity. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV. It’s your choice, His plans or yours? Your aspirations for the future are best when submitted to His wiser direction. By experience, Solomon learned, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV.

If the wisest of men knew to not depend on his imperfect understanding, then maybe you and I are wise to do so as well. In the wilderness, Israel’s insistence on their way instead of God’s will resulted in terrible loss. “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:15 NKJV. God’s path and plans are always better than experiencing a “leanness of soul.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just know the future? Or even if you knew someone who did know the future? There is One who does. God said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. God has a hope-filled future for you; plan accordingly. Hope without a future would be meaningless; a future without hope would be despairing.

As a boy, I remember my mother singing at her piano, “Many things about tomorrow, I can’t seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.” You can live every day with strength and confidence. “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15 NIV. God offers you a future filled with hope and a hope that fills your future. “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.”  Psalm 37:23 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to rest your hope and future upon God’s character and faithfulness.

Christian Communications 2016

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An Abounding Life

September 9th, 2016

EDL sowing and reaaping                  

Whatever good toward God or man will be returned from God’s own hand.

“Whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:8 NKJV.

 

 

My thoughts and comments today are about “an abounding life.”

There is a simple lesson in life. What you do and say, whether good or bad, eventually comes back to you in some form of either kindness or distress. Because you feel like speaking or behaving in a certain way does not mean that you should. When you give and what you give determine what you will receive. Therefore, it would only be wise to consider carefully the effect of what you do or say before doing so.

Solomon wisely observed, “Your reward depends on what you say and what you do; you will get what you deserve.” Proverbs 12:14 TEV. Now that can be either encouraging or terrifying. It’s great to know that God rewards goodness; It is not so comforting to realize that He does not spare you the bitter fruit of wrongdoing. The Bible calls that sowing and reaping: “For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption. He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-10 NKJV. Whenever you are not reaping enough, you are not sowing enough. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV.

As a child, I remember my grandfather McGinness saying, “God will be no man’s debtor.” I have come to understand what he meant by that. A simple rhyme comes to mind: “Whatever good toward God or man, will be returned from God’s own hand.” My grandfather had learned that whatever good is done, toward God or man, will be returned with added blessing from God, in one way or another at one time or another. God lets no good go unrewarded, however unnoticed by others. Your return may not always come from an expected source, but your reward always comes from the true Source of all that is good. God uses whom He chooses to do His work.

Here’s the practical lesson in this. Never hesitate to do what is right or to deal generously when you can; those opportunities come your way with God’s promise of blessing and enrichment. Conversely, never do what you know is wrong, nor withhold what you know is due, however small or secret that may at first appear. Solomon was specific. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27 NLT. There is a moral law. Good comes from the good you do or the grace God gives.

You can count this to be true, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” Ephesians 6:7-8 NKJV. You may not realize the connection with a previous occasion at that moment, but God does, and remembers and rewards accordingly.

Today, I pray for you to do good freely and receive reward extravagantly.

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You may be receiving “Abounding Life” twice, we were notified that the majority of readers did not receive this devotional because of a server error. We want to provide this devotional for those who did not receive it. We apologize for that. Know that much time and effort has been invested in rectifying this technical problem. We trust the error has been corrected. And watch your Monday email for my thoughts on, “Living Passionately.” Spiritual life weakens when passion lessens.

Christian Communications 2016

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