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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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The Law of Return

February 13th, 2018

Life is reciprocal.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

 My thoughts and comments today are about, “the law of return.”

Life is not random, even though it occasionally appears to be. Life is reciprocal. It is important that you understand, “The Law of Return.” The principle is rather simple, but applies either positively or negatively. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed . . He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” Proverbs 11:24-27 NIV. What is not to understand? God’s heart and desire were clear to the Apostle John, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. God’s promises are fulfilled within the measure of your obedience.

Let me state the principle simply and in a practical way. You get what you give, not what you want or demand. What you do not give first you will not receive except as charity, however much you expect or insist otherwise. When you do the right things in the right way, the Creator’s loving touch and generosity can be seen everywhere. In far more instances than the exceptions, good things happen to people who do good things for others. That is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Good deeds reproduce good deeds. Good will responds to good will. Kind words are the response from kind words. Generosity creates gratitude. Conversely, inappropriate actions or unworthy attitudes result in a similar return. Be an example, a good one. Whatever you expect of others, demand even more of yourself. You are wise to heed the warning of God’s Word, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

Life is not as you deem it to be, or wish that it were. Life is established on God’s terms, and works accordingly. You might muscle your will and way for a while, but inevitably and ultimately life works the way the Creator determined it should. As in the beginning, God has spoken over His creation, “Let there be, and there was.” That authority has not been revoked, nor will it be. God established eternal laws and principles by which His world works.

Foolishly and to minimal or temporary effect, you and I may try to force life to work the way we would prefer, but all efforts which are contrary to His Word, will, and wisdom, are eventually to little avail. Your lasting success, enduring satisfaction, and eternal reward depend on your learning God’s ways and cooperating with those. Isaiah was clear when He echoed God’s declaration, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways..’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV. It is foolish pride to think that any of us are wiser than God, even in the matters of our own daily life.

Jesus stated the truth simply, practically, and clearly. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV. That has often been referred to as the Golden Rule. The principle of return works for your good or to your loss, depending on how you choose to cooperate with its practical truth. “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

And Jesus identifies Himself with others,“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45 NIV. Our regard, or lack of regard, for others impacts what God is able to do for us. That too is the Law of Return. God’s Word is true and His provision is unfailing, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NLT.

My prayer for you and those who follow your example is, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord.” Psalm 115:14-15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for your life to abound with God’s grace and benevolence.

Christian Communications 2018

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Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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Goals

January 25th, 2017

A worthy goal is beyond your present abilities and fears

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

“I press on toward the goal . . for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

What could your life be if you cast aside the self-imposed limits? Never settle for a life too small. Life is an adventure for those with God alive within. It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try. But be sure your goals are God’s goals for you. A God-sized goal will be further than your reach, greater than your abilities, and bigger than your fears. In those, your personal satisfaction and success will be found.

You will never achieve your best without noble goals. Don’t waste time or resource with things that give you no pride of achievement. You will always have more potential than you have yet achieved. Yet goals alone do not insure success. Extraordinary achievement requires enthusiasm, energy, and exertion.

Joseph embraced goals that preceded his life and would extend well beyond it. He understood his unique place in history as well as destiny. As he prepared to die, he avowed, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . then you must carry my bones up from this place.” See Genesis 50:24-26/Exodus13:18-19 NIV. Joseph’s heart held a goal surpassing his ability to achieve and extending beyond his lifetime. In comparison, some of our miniscule goals seem embarrassingly small for God.

Reaching all your goals is not the highest achievement of success. If and when you have done that, life is sad rather than satisfying. That dubious accomplishment indicates that your goal was too small, yet you neglected to replace it with challenges grand enough to reach beyond your earlier successes. A goal should be like the horizon, envisioned in the distance, urging you onward, yet never becoming a settled destination.

In my earlier years, Kenny, a dear friend and encourager in my life and ministry, often challenged me, “Allen, it is better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a mountain, than to aim for a telephone pole and hit the top of a fence post.” His life-long conviction of that truth empowered him to believe God for blessing according to his efforts and beyond his abilities. Goals should be worthy of your supreme commitment, diligent effort, singular focus, and beyond what you can achieve without God and others. Godly goals encourage and empower you to accomplish more than you otherwise could.

Paul was neither impressed by his successes nor intimidated by failures. He learned from his past, but refused to live there. His singular goal was always before him. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life . . The one thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So, I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” Philippians 3:10-14 TEV. A God-sized goal is not achievable apart from God.

Today, I pray for you to dream big, plan well, and work hard to achieve your potential.

Christian Communications 2017

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