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Contentment and Confidence

October 18th, 2018

The important things in life are not things.  

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Contentment and  Confidence.”

Contentment is not found in how much you have, nor in how much of a surplus you enjoy. However much you have will never be enough, apart from God’s generous provision. Contentment is found in your full confidence that God is your ample provider, Jehovah Jireh. The Apostle Paul was assuring, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

Years ago, I was challenged by a quote attributed to Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher. Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” How much must a person have to be content? That is a sufficiently important question that every person needs to answer honestly and accurately. When is enough enough? Usually, the answer is,  just a little more. Answered correctly, your answer can counteract a latent insecurity and subtle greed that conflicts with your desire for contentment. Insecurity whispers to all of us that we need enough, and then defines enough as more than what is truly adequate.

And even when you acquire what you think are necessary resources and gather more than enough stuff, greed still suggests that you require a little more while falsely reassuring that you deserve the extra you desire. So, a never-ending cycle is created, wanting more while trying to have enough. You work to feel secure, then reward yourself with more than you need. And, the result is a futile search, a never-ending quest for more.

Otherwise, your quest reduces your joy and pleasure for what you have and dampens your gratitude for what you have already received. Striving to accumulate and store more, becomes an insufficient goal for life, ultimately exhausting to the human spirit. Such a limited, material goal misdirects your heart from seeking true wealth which is always spiritual not material. Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also..” Matthew 6:20-21 NKJV.

It is better to have the best of what lasts, than simply more of what is only good for the moment.  More is never enough! My wise and dear friend, Campbell, advised me years ago, The heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” Be selective about what holds your gaze too long, lest it fills your vision and captures your desires.

God’s Word is clear, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV. What God provides will always be enough. And what is the personal reward of having enough? Gratitude. Contentment. Sufficiency. Satisfaction. Freedom from the tyranny for more. Appreciating things that money cannot buy.

“Godliness with contentment is a great gain.” Read 1 Timothy 6: 6-11.  I read a sign today that said, “The most important things in life are not things.” That is good to remember. God offers you a greater return, and much more enduring, than the biggest bull market on Wall Street.

“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – through Him Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13. It is never your wealth or possessions that provide true security and contentment. Those are found only in God.

Today I pray for you to trust God, reassured that He is your source of sufficiency.

Christian Communications 2018

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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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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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Relationships

May 9th, 2014

“A person is a fool to . . not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT.

A right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship, both life-long and eternal.

My thoughts and comments today are about “relationships.”

Life is about relationships. The best of life is empty without them. You may seem to have everything, but if you lack mutual and meaningful relationships what you have will never be what you desire. The best of good things can never substitute for a heartfelt closeness with family and friends. That’s where true richness of life can be found, but with one very important addition. A righteous relationship with God is the most important relationship you will ever have.

It is easy to be occupied with what you think God wants from you, and offer Him many good and worthwhile things. All the while, you could fail to give God the one thing He most wants – yourself. God is not dependent on you and me for anything that He cannot readily and abundantly provide for Himself, except for one thing that only you can give Him, your love and your life. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NKJV. Your life is a gift from God; what you do with your life is your gift to God.

What God most wants from you, and wants most for you, is a rich relationship with Him, for you to experience spiritual intimacy that is fulfilling and life affirming. Jesus exposed the foolishness of lacking that relationship, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Read Luke 12:16-21 NLT. Be wise, not foolish. Jesus does not teach against wealth. He warns against the foolishness of thinking that anything could ever be enough without a rich, personal relationship with God. This warning is not just about wealth; Jesus warns of accepting anything or anyone as a substitute for the singular relationship you cannot be without.

“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . they should be rich in good works . . by doing this they will be storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT. Only a genuine relationship with God “gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . as a good foundation for the future.”

Life is about relationships. Spiritual life is not about religion; your spiritual life is about righteous relationships – a real, personal relationship with God and right relatedness with others that begins now and continues throughout eternity. Jesus’ sacrifice was to reconcile you to God. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV. Offering you a right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship with God, both life-long and eternal.

What would such a relationship with God would look like for you? As importantly, what do you think would be required of you to have such a relationship with God? I would suggest that a rich relationship with God would be mutual, authentic, practical, loving, continually transforming, and always growing.

My prayer for you today is to know God in a way that transforms all you are and do.

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Inheritance and Heritage

July 10th, 2013

“An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

Whatever your net worth, live that your Godly influence blesses generations.

My thoughts and comments today are about “inheritance and heritage.”

Inheritance first suggests the transfer of property and wealth from one generation to the next, yet it can be so much more. My Dad died in a highway accident just forty-four years old. My Dad, a pastor, had married Gayle and me just three weeks earlier. I was twenty-one, a senior in college. He left a modest home with a mortgage, a negligible bank balance, and a $4,000 life insurance policy.

Yet, the heritage he left me is of incalculable worth, even though not in property and wealth. Those are certainly desirable, a beneficial boost to a new generation when given wisely to them and used wisely by them. But there are less tangible things as important as property and wealth seem to be – such as personal example, core beliefs, priority of family and friendships, character, convictions, gratitude, Godly faith, moral values, fidelity, work ethic, family priorities, wise money management, generosity, and integrity.

Still today, my Dad’s words, wisdom, and example shape my personal, marital, relational, and ministry life. My friend, Carlos, often reminds me how frequently I quote my Dad’s words about practical areas of life and faith, even fifty years after his death.

The Bible says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22 NKJV. One’s lifetime should be viewed through the lens of Godly generations. With six grandchildren and our first great-granddaughter, Kaylee Grace, Solomon’s words are meaningful to Gayle and me. When Solomon referenced, “a good man,” I think the inheritance he would leave included values and convictions more intrinsic to the man himself than his material wealth. I think I might distinguish the first as, “heritage,” differentiating the latter as, “inheritance.” Whatever your final net worth, substantial or minimal, live that your Godly influence extends to and blesses generations.

Ahab, a wicked king, envied a vineyard adjoining his palace, which belonged to Naboth. Ahab offered Naboth a even better vineyard or a just price. Read 1 Kings 21. There is something noble and Godly about Naboth’s response, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” 1 Kings 21:3 NIV. Property and price were not the issue for him; honoring a sacred trust was. Naboth had received more than property; his vineyard was both an inheritance to enjoy and a heritage to protect. Protect the heritage you’ve been given and the one you will leave for those who follow. Every compromise of convictions steals something from the next generation.

What your “children and children’s children” value will reflect what you have consistently lived before them.I learned from my Dad this truth, “In his great mercy [Christ] has given us new birth . . into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV. I agree with King David; “Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance . . The [boundary] lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; [Surely], I have a good inheritance.” Psalms 16:5-6 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you have the courage of your convictions.

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