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Abiding and Abounding Love

August 25th, 2017

Nothing lasts without God as its source and center.

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love.” 1 Thess 3:12 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Abiding and Abounding Love.”

Loving and being loved is essential to a healthy, happy life. After listing multiple, essential Christian graces – compassion, kindness, humility, patience, gentleness, and forgiveness – Paul added, And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Read Colossians 3:12-14 NIV. All else is incomplete without sincere love at its heart. Love contains and completes all other Godly virtues. Love for God and one another is the crowning grace of all else. But love is never easy all the time.

Conditions complicate love. Sometimes without realizing your having done so, you may have thought to yourself, “I will love you, as long as you ( fill in your conditions ).” Love with limitations will always be taking inventory, making sure your conditions are being met. Provisional love will neither produce nor protect strong marriages, nor safe homes, nor solid friendships. Conditional love cannot hold people together when misunderstandings inevitably arise or when the blush of love’s emotion wanes.

In contrast, Jesus’ love for you is unconditional, just as He commands you to love others. “Now I am giving you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT. That is a high standard, but a lesser goal will not sustain your faith in all times, nor friendships for a long time, nor love for a lifetime.

Do you want to know God’s practical benchmarks of love in daily life? God’s Word says what love is and love is not. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT. Did you notice the last characteristic? “Love endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever!” Even when you feel like it won’t; it will. Forever does not begin in eternity. Forever begins now and reaches across and throughout eternity.

“I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV. Such persevering love rests on the firm foundation of His own love for you. “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope.” Lamentations 3:22-24 TEV.

Nothing lasts without God as its Source and Center. This is my prayer and hope for you today. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NKJV. Love will not endure unless God originates and sustains it. God is the only source of abiding and abounding love. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” John 15:9-10 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that out of God’s wondrous love, you will love always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Economic Uncertainty

November 26th, 2012

Economic Uncertainty

Government is not the solution to economic uncertainty; God is.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NAS

Economic uncertainty seems the rule and not the exception presently. Each day’s news is filled with more bad news than good as it pertains to finances, whether on the global, national, local, or personal levels. Everyone suggests a different solution; no one solution seems effective. While political parties exonerate themselves while caustically blaming one another, the economic problems stubbornly grow more ugly and personal, and individual families suffer the consequence. Unemployment is not a percentage; it’s people. Our nation, like many other nations, faces economic challenges bigger than borrowing and spending can solve. See Proverbs 22:7 NIV. Nationally, this is not the first time, maybe not even the worst. Ask your grandparents or great grandparents.

Individually is a good place to begin, rather than nationally or internationally. I would first suggest that government is not the problem; you and I are – our incessant wants, insatiable appetites for more, sense of entitlement, and unrealistic expectation all that will be at another’s expense. The origin of the current economic uncertainty is first moral and spiritual, only then financial. As citizens, we have allowed the government to tax unfairly, spend unwisely, borrow indiscriminately, and grant government favors at public expense. But we are the government, by means of duly elected and appointed leaders. In the closing words of his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln vowed, “. . that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” 1863. Of, by, and for the people remains the guiding principle upon which any government governs.

Likewise, the government is not the solution; God is. The problem of resolving personal economic uncertainty begins with each individual. The Bible’s counsel is this: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NASV.

No one in today’s increasingly secular, materialistic society can avoid financial anxiety or be naturally content. Incessant advertising and irresistible marketing subtly erodes contentment. There is good news. Like Paul, you can say, “. . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:11-12 NASV.

My Dad taught me simple, practical principles of money management, “Work hard. Remember, God is your Source. Tithe first. Never spend all you earn. Save some. Spend wisely.” That’s Biblical economics, wise stewardship, and sound money management. Hebrews 13:5 NIV/2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NKJV. And tithing, giving, and generosity are what God honors and rewards. See Malachi 3:10-12 NIV/Luke 6:38/Acts 20:33-35 NIV. Be certain of this truth, “My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you know the provision and blessing of God on all.

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Giftedness

June 10th, 2011

“All these are the work of the same Spirit . . just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV

“God is to be the center and source in every moment and expression of everyday life.”

My thoughts today are about “giftedness.”

Wouldn’t it be terrible if everyone was identically alike – looked alike, dressed alike, acted alike, talked alike – copies and clones of one another? I am glad we are each a wonderful original. When I look around at God’s creation, I am amazed at the diversity of His creation, whether talking about people or fish or fowl or animals or insects or flowers or weeds. And then within each of those broader categories there are even so many more species even more diverse. How dissimilar are the giraffe and the hippopotamus? Just saying! Why then do so many of us expect everyone else to be so much like we are? How boring would that be?

Much beyond outward dissimilarities, a significant distinction is the uniqueness of how God has planned to use each person and the giftedness He releases to accomplish that. After identifying various spiritual gifts, Paul says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God who works all of them in all men . . All these are the work of the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6/11 NIV.

There are a few misconceptions as it relates to spiritual giftedness. Don’t be misled by the word, “gift;” spiritual gifts are unlike natural gifts that you possess or acquire. Your spiritual gift does not reside in you nor is it yours to use when and as you choose; God’s Spirit dwells in you and your giftedness is an expression of His presence and power there – “a gift of the Spirit” that operates through you at His direction and with His enabling. “The Father . . will give you . . the Spirit of Truth . . for He lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 NIV.

You don’t choose the task for which you were created, nor the gift you prefer. “All these are the work of the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV. Those are sovereign decisions, because Father knows best. Your spiritual giftedness will best fit your task, and vice versa. Forget artificial distinctions between sacred and secular; all you are and do is sacred to God – your faith, your family, your occupation, your relationships, and your recreation. Let God be the center and source in every moment and expression of everyday life.

Your spiritual gift is not for your personal amusement, benefit, or enrichment; they are for God’s purpose and glory. “To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV. Spiritual gifts have an essential purpose: to reveal and express God’s love and caring, for the edification – building up – of others, and for the accomplishment of God’s intention and will, all of that “as He determines.”

Sincere Christians may differ on their understanding of spiritual gifts, and/or their nature and exercise, but I doubt any of us would argue that whatever we attempt and accomplish of eternal value is dependent upon the Spirit of God working in and through us.

My prayer for you today is that you welcome God into every area of your life everyday.

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Source and Supply

June 6th, 2011

“I have commanded a widow . . to provide for you.” 1 Kings 17:9 NKJV

“God is the origin of all that is good!”

My thoughts today are about “source and supply.”

You may not always know how or from where God chooses to supply your need, but you can be sure that God will. The promise to do so is clear, even though the process may be a surprise to you. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. There is only one source; God is the origin of all that is good! “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.“ James 1:17. The point of supply varies; the Source remains constant – “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

Before you know there’s a problem, God has already made a plan. There was a lengthy famine in Israel that would eventually last three and a half years. God directed Elijah to go to the Brook Cherith, where “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” Read 1 Kings 17:8-24. Ravens? Are you kidding me? In a severe famine, God chose the most unlikely means of supplying Elijah’s needs. Can you imagine the level of trust it takes for such an act of Elijah’s obedience? Do what God tells you and go where He sends you; that’s when and where God provides for you. It would seem that often it is not as hard to trust God to meet your need as it might be to accept the way He chooses to supply.

The problem comes when you confuse Source and supply. “And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain.” God’s provision now does not mean there will be no problems along the way. There still was a drought and the resulting famine, and then even the creek dried up. This is a critical time when you may be tempted to start looking out for yourself, as though God has not or will not provide for you. Circumstances change; God doesn’t. When your present supply runs out, don’t panic. Your Source remains the same! God is ever faithful.

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, ‘Arise; go to Zarephath and dwell there. I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. So he went to Zarephath.’” It’s a waste of time telling God how to provide for you. How God meets your need will rarely, if ever, be the way you want or forecast. Expect the unexpected every time! If not careful, you could miss God’s provision altogether.

God is the great economist. He used a widow to meet Elijah’s need in order for her act of faith and obedience to be His means of using Elijah to miraculously meet her need for the years of the famine. “She did according to the word of Elijah and she and her house ate for many days . . the flour was not used up according to the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” Her faith may have exceeded Elijah’s. He heard God directly; she had to trust what Elijah told her. Again, let me remind you, do what God tells you and go where He sends you; that’s when and where God provides for you. While God is meeting your need, keep your eyes and heart open for ways God might use you to bless someone else in the process.

My prayer for you today is that you have confidence and certainty in God’s faithfulness to provide what you need.

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Life Beyond Limits

April 14th, 2010

“Water deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross.” Ezekiel 47:5 NIV

“Stop waiting, and wading; jump into the big middle of life!”

My thoughts today are about “life beyond limits.”

None of us are free from limits of some kind, but your limits are less than you may think. Maybe the “human condition” that is common to us all, makes each person aware and leads people to wrongly accept what they or others consider to be their limits.

As a child, when I would tell my Dad, “I can’t do that,” I recall his often saying, “You can’t if you think you can’t.” Now he and I both knew that realistically there are things any person can’t do, but he wanted me to learn that with a bit of self-confidence, a lot of effort, and a little help from somebody, I could do more than I thought. Limits are often assumed and self-imposed.

Today’s verse describes God showing the prophet Ezekiel a vision of a river with ever increasing expanse and depth. As he began to experience the river, the river deepened and broadened, first from a trickle to ankle deep, then to his knees, then waist-high, until “it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed.“

Opportunities multiply when you accept the ones you’re given. Life enlarges as you press against its difficulties. Success is achieved when you embrace the risk of failing. You will reach your maximum potential when you try life beyond limits. “I pray that from His glorious unlimited resources, He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 3:16 NLT.

Really, it is not so much about taking the limits off of yourself, as it is taking the limits off of your God, “Who is able to do above and beyond all that you ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20. What God calls you to do will always be greater than the resources you start with, until you understand that God is your source and His supply is unlimited. See Philippians 4:19/Colossians 2:10. Your background, education, appearance, or inadequate resources are not what limit you.

Ezekiel realized that life can be unlimited when he saw, “There will be life everywhere the river goes. All kinds of trees will grow along the banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail.” Ezekiel. 47:9,12. Stop waiting, and wading; jump into the big middle of life! Stretch yourself; set new and larger boundaries, if any at all; extend the borders that confine you. Begin the great adventure of the soul; reach with all your heart for everything that God has for you – life beyond limits!

My prayer for you today is that you take the limits off yourself and God.

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