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Posts Tagged ‘sufficiency’

Faults and Amazing Grace

August 23rd, 2017

Love sees what others do not care enough to look for.

 “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Romans 5:20

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faults and Amazing Grace.”

We all have faults aplenty, if anyone is looking for them. And it is not uncommon to recognize faults in others that we ignore in ourselves. The challenge of any relationship is choosing to keep in view the things that first caused love or friendship to be valued. As time passes, it is easy to notice more things that are other than were expected. Those are less numerous and probably smaller than what you might appreciate, but a wrong focus can soon cause another’s graces to seem overshadowed.That’s when you will be tempted to highlight another’s supposed shortcomings, much to their displeasure and the gradual diminishing of your relationship.

When a person seems oblivious to a beloved’s imperfections, it is explained that, “Love is blind.” I suggest that God’s love is not blind at all, but chooses to overlook what is contrary to love. How would you otherwise explain this verse? “Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 NIV.

This is the real question. How could God see your sinfulness, and yet love you? Do you ever think that strange? Exceptional? Our humanity waits until love has cause and justification to be offered, but is easily revoked when disappointed. God’s only justification was your need for His love and ample forgiveness. Paul marveled at God grace. “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” . . “And 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.” Romans 5:20/2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV.

Many years ago, Dottie Rambo wrote a touching song of testimony that declared, “He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” That kind of love, from God or man, has an relentless power to transform a human heart and rescue a ruined life. Mark reports Jesus’ encounter with a young man of wealth and authority, who sincerely asked how he might inherit eternal life. Painful moments after Jesus’ response, he would walk away sorrowfully. The price seemed too high for him to accept. “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Read Mark 10:17-22 NKJV.

Though more than fifty years ago, I vividly remember my Dad’s sermon about “the rich, young ruler.” As a young teen, his words painted an unforgettable picture in my heart of a young man walking away, shoulders slumped with sorrow, and his back turned to Jesus. My Dad’s description has influenced my lifetime, lest anything cause me to turn my back on Jesus’ offer of eternal life. No sacrifice is too great as an exchange for eternal life.

While writing Peter’s memory of the encounter, Mark observed, “And Jesus looked at him, and loved him.” Mark 10:21 NIV. Make no mistake. Others saw his wealth and position and would have received or rejected him on that basis. Jesus saw more. He saw a heart searching for real life, and loved him, before he chose and even after he chose unwisely. Do not make the mistake than young man made.

After explaining his notable, religious pedigree and his brutal, relentless persecution of the young church, Paul wrote, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,  for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” See Philippians 3:4-14 NKJV/Galatians 1:1-16 NIV. No wonder they call grace amazing!

Today, I pray for you to love others, believe the best of them, and show them grace.

Christian Communications 2017

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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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The Language of Touch

June 9th, 2017

A touch communicates more than words will express.

You place Your hand of blessing on my head.”   Psalm 139:5 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “The Language of Touch.”

Physical touch has its own language. A simple act of touch can communicate comfort, inclusion, assurance, affirmation, or even healing. An extended hand speaks of welcome and acceptance. A pat on the back is congratulatory, affirming a job well done. An arm around a person’s shoulders registers comfort and assurance. An embrace communicates affection. The language of touch communicates what words are inadequate to express – compassion, understanding, sympathy, comfort, or reassurance. In contrast, isolation from human touch can be debilitating to one’s personality and sense of wellbeing.

Along with our family and friends, we each need appropriate, physical interaction. Babies who were touched and held more frequently by attending nurses are found to thrive, gaining body weight more quickly than infants who were not touched and held. It would seem we never outgrow the need for a loving, caring touch from others. For reasons that will have to be explored elsewhere, it seems like we Americans are more inhibited about this than are our European cousins. But no one does as well without frequent interaction and the appropriate touch of other persons.

Jesus was always touching people and being touched by them, even some that others would not have touched. He touched lepers and freed them from their prison of social isolation. He touched the sick and they resumed normal lives. He touched the blind and they could see as before. Jesus laid His hands upon children and blessed them. His touch restored lifeless bodies to life. In Scripture, great importance is given to the “laying on of hands.” Along with the spiritual significance of impartation, there is the very real physical importance of identification and empowerment, evidencing a new connectedness and beneficial involvement with one another.

That personal touch is available to you as well. David seemed incredulous as he wrote, You place Your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT. What would it mean to you today – every day, any day – to know that the hand of God was upon your life for blessing? After David describes the breadth of human experience, he adds, “Even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.” Read Psalm 139: 7-12 NLT.

When He lays His hand upon you, God identifies Himself with you. So often in Scripture, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” chose to identify Himself with individuals, even with all our imperfections and frailties. Consider that God would place His Name alongside of yours. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV. The double negative of that verse asserts that our God can and will be touched with, “the feelings of our infirmities,” and welcomes us with grace.

When He lays His hand upon you, God commits Himself to you. He commits to provide, protect, and direct.  “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. Imagine having the sufficiency of God always available to you.

Today, I pray for you to experience the benevolent touch of your God.

Christian Communications 2017 – 6408

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About the photo: From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several Biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam.

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The Holy Spirit

August 5th, 2016

The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for your powerlessness.

“Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “the Holy Spirit.”

Life can be challenging. And that just might be the understatement of the year. Daily life presents situations that confront your lack of knowledge, understanding, ability, and/or resources. That fact we all have in common. Just “toughing it out” doesn’t work so well in many situations. Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue result from those challenges. David, the courageous victor over Goliath, still experienced difficulties beyond his abilities, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:12-13 NKJV.  Don’t lose heart. You will see the goodness of the Lord in this lifetime.

Spiritual life is also challenging. Consequential decisions for yourself and family are a daily occurrence. Previous experience or the advice of friends does not always offer the depth of knowledge and wisdom that you need. Of ourselves, we are insufficient for all of the demands, necessities, and challenges life presents. God always provides the answer. The Holy Spirit is God’s answer for your powerlessness. “The Spirit of the Lord [is] the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJV. Sufficiency is found in God because God alone is sufficient. Read 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 NKJV.

God’s desire and supply are simple, direct, practical, and achievable. “Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV. The New Testament is translated from Greek, which is grammatically distinct and layered with meaning. In Paul’s instruction, “Be filled” is the Greek verb, Pleroo, which is “imperative, present tense, plural, and passive voice.” The command is imperative, a command to be obeyed; present tense, continuous in duration; plural, for all without exception; passive voice, a grace gift to the hungry. A literal translation is: “All of you, be continuously filled with the Spirit and continually controlled by the Spirit.” Our generous, gracious God fills the heart and life where He is invited.

Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being . . to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is as Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV.

Christian Communications 2016

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Holy Spirit

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Spiritual Practices

October 9th, 2015

“The Father has blessed us . . with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual practices.”

Days can be busy and noisy, leaving you over-stimulated and weary. Everything seems rushed and everyone hurried. All too often, the urgent displaces the important. The pace of our lives and the noise of our surroundings diminish things vital to our well-being. More tragically, you can lose something of yourself somewhere in the noise and busyness. Unrelenting activity produces a confused identity. A conviction of spiritual identity provides: certainty about purpose, clarity of direction, and sufficiency of your God-given gifts and abilities. So much depends upon a true sense of your God-given identity.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude. We are so much like the disciples – often busy and tired. Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV. Time alone with God is where you rediscover your identity in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV. In his epistles, Paul wrote prolifically about your life, “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV.

Let me suggest Biblical disciplines that strengthen your spiritual identity. Begin with this. Practice Sabbath rest. The Sabbath principle incorporates the whole of one’s life before the Lord. All other spiritual disciplines begin and extend from a heart that practices the principle of Sabbath. More than a day set aside from usual and necessary activity, Sabbath is a deliberate time – without worry or hurry – to reorient your body, soul, and spirit with the Biblical practices that encourage and celebrate your faith. In Jesus, true Sabbath is found. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.

Prioritize quiet and solitude. Practice to be quiet and content in God’s presence. “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:1-2 NIV. Prioritize time in God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Regular attention to the reading and meditation of Scripture is critically important. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV. Prioritize prayer with thanksgiving. Communicating your heart and gratitude to God results in communion with God. “In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Prioritize Praise and Worship. Grow comfortable expressing your heart in joyful adoration. Psalm 100 NIV. Prioritize edifying Fellowship. You were made for community. Acts 2:46-47 NKJV. That is where you grow and serve best. “Let us not neglect our meeting together . . but encourage and warn one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT. Spiritual practices develop a life that abides in Christ, trusts His finished work on the cross, and celebrates your identity in Christ.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is rooted and built up in Christ Jesus.

Christian Communications

Bible

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