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Posts Tagged ‘testimony’

Image and Identity

October 6th, 2015

“You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11 NIV.

Inner tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess.

My thoughts and comments continue today about, “image and identity”

People often confuse image and identity; they may seem similar but are distinctly different. The first is an inadequate imitation of the latter. Image is what you project to others, what you prefer others believe about you. Identity is who and what you really are. Emotional and spiritual tension results when the image you project is not the identity you possess. Any disconnect between image and identity creates confusion and dissimulation.

It is significant that at Jesus’ baptism before His public ministry began, the Father affirmed Jesus’ eternal identity. An audible voice from Heaven was heard, “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV. Imagine the strength of the Father’s testimony when others would later dispute His identity and deny His authority.

Image confines you to less than you are; identity frees you to be all God intends. Sin and self conspire to substitute image for identity. They are not interchangeable to God. Jesus evidenced the freedom of identity and humility when He washed the feet of the disciples. John 13:1-17 NKJV. In four statements, John defines Jesus’ identity and the secret of His humility.

(1) Sure Knowledge. “Jesus knowing . .” Jesus had unshakable conviction of unchanging truth. When you know Who God is, you believe what God says.

(2) Sufficient Resource. “. . knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,” When you do God’s will, you will have all you need to succeed.

(3) Sacred Origin. “. . knowing that He had come from God,” When you know where you came from, you can always find your way home.

(4) Secure Destiny. “. . knowing He was going to God.” Your destiny in Christ is irrevocable. Read John 14:1-3 NIV. When your future is sure you are freed to live life fully now.

As was the Jewish custom, a basin of water and towel were at the door when the disciples gathered for the Passover. Apparently, not one of them considered the basin and towel were there for their use. As Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet, Peter remonstrated against Jesus washing his feet. Was his refusal from pride or shame? Peter, like the others, never thought to wash the Messiah’s feet, let alone the feet of his fellow disciples.

Peter’s image of himself and his image of Jesus were radically less than the identity out of which Jesus ministered. “Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself . . to wash the Disciples’ feet.” Read Philippians 2:2-11 NIV. Humility is the byproduct of a Godly identity. Solomon’s wise counsel is this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

Today, I pray that you will not settle for anything less than God created you to be.

Divine Servant , Max Greiner Jr Designs (c)

“Divine Servant”

Max Greiner, Jr. Designs (c)

Christian Communications

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All of Life Is Sacred

July 10th, 2015

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the Name of Jesus.” Colossians 3:17 NIV.

The sacred gives dignity and purpose to all you do.

My thoughts and comments today are that “all of life is sacred.”

People attempt to separate and compartmentalize daily life into distinct activities – home, work, play, or church. Life is best when those blend together, each contributing and complementing the others. What you are at church or home should be the same when at work or play. You live as God designed when you approach all of life with reverence and gratitude.

The sacred is never successfully divorced from every part of your life. Your life and mine is to be publicly consistent, “. . among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the Word of life.” Philippians 2:16. Read Matthew 5:13-16 NLT. The sacred gives dignity and purpose to all you do. Secular culture tries to diminish the effect and depreciate the value of anything that is sacred. That pressure is increasingly visible today in diverse attempts to restrict and relegate the sacred away from the public square. Paul was clear, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17 NIV. Let me suggest what such an obedience would mean.

(1) What you do is on His behalf. Would that change what you do and how you do it? “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 NLT. Nor working for yourself!

(2) What you do is under His authority. Invest yourself only in activities under His authority. Jesus said, “And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” John 14:13-14 NIV. Why waste any portion of your life apart from His direction and involvement?

(3) What you do is with His partnership and power. I love this verse about the early disciples, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through the accompanying signs.” Mark 16:20. What would your life look like – at home, work, play, or church – if your efforts were always with God’s blessing?

(4) What you do redeems the secular. The sacred redeems what would otherwise be devoid of value and vacantly secular. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? . . God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV. There is no moment or activity of your life when or where Jesus is unwilling to be included and fully invested. Jesus’ presence makes all of life sacred.

Today, I pray for you to live for God as an undeniable testimony before a watching world.

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Lifestyle Issues

March 11th, 2015

“We urge you to live in a way that pleases God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NLT.

Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lifestyle issues.”

EDL pix walking with God

If you try to please everyone, you will ultimately please no one and make yourself miserable in the process. Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone. Neither is practical or achievable. Life is simpler when you finally decide who you are going to please. And the worst possible alternative is to live to please no one but yourself. The Bible warns, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead be modest in your thinking.” Romans 12:3 TEV.

Many things pressure you to conform to others’ demands and expectations. Resist the temptation of doing so. The Apostle Paul offers a practical self-inventory, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV. Obviously, Paul recognized a previous time when he was “still trying to please men,” and the inconsistency that resulted.

The proper conclusion is this: when you can serve both God and man, do so. When you cannot, serve and please God above all others. “Our aim is to please Him always . . for we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NLT. Never forget the One to whom you owe first allegiance.

The surrounding culture may press you to conform your attitudes, values, and conduct in less than exemplary ways; live as unto the Lord. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV. Current circumstances might seem to impose an urgency of attention they may not warrant; live above your present circumstance. An unhealthy family history may have enslaved you in habitual behaviors, struggling to please people who simply refuse to be pleased; live free of unjust expectations. Some have had the unfortunate experience of working for a boss you could not please, a relative from whom you never gained their approval, or a parent or spouse who never affirms you. That is sad, but not uncommon. Such experiences present lifestyle issues.

Ultimately, the only hope of pleasing others is to confidently know that you have first pleased God. Here is the Bible’s definitive guideline: “Finally, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You are doing this already, and we encourage you to do so more and more.” Read 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:1 NLT. After struggling unsuccessfully to please others, maybe your question would be, “How then can I please God?” Pleasing people is complicated; pleasing God is not. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV. See Romans 14:17-18 NIV.

The task is not yours alone; God gives you all that is required; you supply obedience. “May God equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:21 NIV. Paul’s answer was this, “. . we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way . .” Colossians 1:9-10 NIV. Paul then elaborates on what pleases God, “. . bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, strengthened with power, having endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks, brought into the Kingdom, and having redemption and the forgiveness of sins.” Read Colossians 1:11-14 NIV.

I love the simplicity with which the Bible described ancient Enoch, a man that walked with God, “Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Read Hebrews 11:5-6 (See Genesis 5:21-24).

Today, my prayer for you is that at life’s end, His testimony and yours will be that you pleased God.

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Righteous and Gracious

November 20th, 2014

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” Psalm 145:17 NKJV.

Life is not always fair but God will always be righteous.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “righteous and gracious.”

Children seem to possess a heightened sense of what’s fair or unfair. They have not yet learned that some circumstances and some people are neither righteous nor gracious. It is assumed that if you do what is right all will be well, but that is not accurate. As a pastor and counselor, I have heard many people say, “Life’s not fair!” Of course it’s not; get over it. Life is not always fair but God will always be righteous. “For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians.” Hebrews 6:10 NLT.

Jesus is your example when life seems unfair. “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering . . if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:19-24 NIV. “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Read 1 Peter 3:14-18 NIV.

On occasion, suffering is the natural result of what you have done or left undone. At other times, suffering is not related to your decisions or actions. Asking, “Why,” is seldom productive. I think there is much to be learned from the experience and examples of Daniel’s companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Read Daniel 3:1-30 NIV. They obeyed God; they did what was right; yet they suffered unjustly; but God was with them from beginning to end.

(1) Good people are not exempt from trouble. Truth takes the confusion out of trouble and unfair circumstances. David declared God to be righteous and gracious, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” Psalm 145:17 NKJV. Life is not always fair but God is always gracious.

(2) God will be with you at all times, in all situations. King Nebuchadnezzar was furious by their refusal to bow to his golden image, and committed them to a fiery furnace for their destruction. But they had company they never imagined; the Lord was with them. Astounded, the King saw, “four men walking, unbound and unharmed, in the midst of the fire.” Daniel 3:25 NIV. They experienced God’s company, special fellowship in the worst circumstance possible.

(3) Blessing will be found in suffering, and afterward. “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace . . will Himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 TEV. God will turn your pain into gain.

(4) God will redeem your suffering. People are watching to see if your life and faith work; for many of them, their life does not work and they have little or no faith. God will take the worst that happens to you and create the best result. Everyone has a story to tell. Let your story be a testimony of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

“Then the King promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” Daniel 3:30 NIV. Grace will write your testimony. Your story is not just about your struggles and circumstances; the real story of your life is about God’s provision, protection, and promotion. Even when others are not, God is ever righteous, always gracious. Imagine if others found us more like our Father in Heaven.

Today, my prayer for you is to trust God in every situation and rejoice at all times.

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Your Story

July 31st, 2014

“We testify and announce to you that [Jesus] is the One who is eternal life.” 1 John 1:2 NLT.

Share your story with sincerity and authenticity.

My thoughts and comments today are about “your story.”

Some talk a lot, but say little that ultimately matters. Others can speak volumes in an economy of words. Treat your words as holding value not volume. Solomon observed, “A fool is full of words . . a truly wise person uses few words . . even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent . . wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites trouble.” Ecclesiastes 10:14KJV/ Proverbs 17:27-28 NLT/10:14 NLT. It doesn’t take much discernment to tell the difference between a fool and a wise person. People listen to those who have character, experience, and credibility.

I grow weary of the plethora of opinions offered 24 hour a day, now amplified by the Internet where anyone can find a platform and presence. There seem to be self-proclaimed experts with opinions about everything – world events, politics, personal investing, legal advice, health issues, marriage and relationships, parenting, fashion and culture, and of course, religion. As a follower of Jesus, you have a powerful, personal story to tell and it is truth, not opinion.

Don’t be intimidated into silence by people who have an opinion about everything, yet little to say of eternal consequence. Such people are why the message is sometimes not spoken, and other times not heard. You have the greatest truth in the world to share, which is your testimony of the redeeming power of God to save the soul and change a life. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he [or she] is a new creation; old things have passed away, and all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Your story has influence because it is the inarguable, personal testimony of your life that is changed and is lived accordingly. Such a life-giving story will be heard.

Someone near you needs to hear your story. They may not know they do, or even want to hear, but they need it nonetheless. That’s why John wrote, “We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life . . and now we testify and announce to you that [Jesus] is the One who is eternal life . . We are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3 NLT. The question is whether you will share your story with sincerity and authenticity, not whether others will receive it.

You need to realize that everything God has ever done in your life has one purpose – to make you His servant and witness. God spoke to Paul at his dramatic conversion, “Tell the world about this experience . . to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. They will receive forgiveness from their sins.” See Acts 26:16-18 NLT.

Today, my prayer for you is that the heart of your story is the mercy and majesty of Jesus.

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