Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Thoughts lead to character...

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Philippians 4:8
When our boys were children we had all kinds of toys to entertain and challenge their abilities. One such toy was called "Domino Rally". After a lengthy domino creation was built, the last step was to knock the first domino down and watch the rest follow. Life is like falling dominoes. Tyrone Edwards put it this way... "Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny."
When Paul wrote to the Philippians he directed them into a life of humility, joy, gentleness and contentment. While all this comes from a close walk with the Lord, it begins in our thought life and from there the spiritual dominoes will fall. When thoughts are right, your actions and lifestyle will be right.
What are you thinking today? What preoccupies your mind? Only you can choose what you think about. If you want to live a Godly life, start with your thoughts and the rest will fall into place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Practice...

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." - Philippians 3:13-16
Our family Doctor has his own medical practice. I often wonder what it is that he practices. He updates his expertise quite regularly through various workshops and seminars, then I receive the benefits. Over time I have also concluded that aside from the newest upcoming procedures, he takes what he has already learned and puts it into practice.
Paul was driven to grow in Christ. He wasn't satisfied to stay where he was spiritually. He pressed and strained toward greater goals for the Lord. But while he pursued new ground for Jesus, he was careful to live up to what he had already learned. Paul always put his gains into practice.
Are you living up to what you've learned today? Or are you occasionally preoccupied with new stuff and slip back from the basics? Don't ever lose sight of what you've already learned and be sure to put it into practice.

Monday, May 21, 2018

No room for complaints...

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" - Philippians 2:14-15 
Whenever I plan to make a major purchase of electronics, appliances or a car, I spend hours reading product reviews. They are some help, but the complaints are often beyond belief. Given the opportunity, people will complain about the silliest things and expend incredible time and effort in the process. It's such a joy to meet someone who doesn't complain.
Paul wrote about the humility and sacrifice of our Savior in this chapter. He pointed us to Jesus as our example for selfless living. This kind of lifestyle will always produce people who face life without complaining and arguing. As a result our lives shine like stars in the world, with quality, purity, and contentment. People will listen to our witness because they see our consistent joy.
No one likes to be around complainers. Arguments turn people away. But we have been sent into the world to bring the light and joy of the Gospel. The next time you want to complain, consider the Lord's selfless sacrifice for us and find reason to rejoice. To win people to Christ, you often have to woo them first.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Will it be finished?

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:4-6 
I occasionally see unfinished buildings in my travels. They are such a depressing picture of failed plans. When the first hole was dug and the foundation was poured there was such excitement and expectation. But now the question plagues the builder... will it ever be finished?
Paul was full of expectation as he prayed and worked for the Lord. He had great confidence that his labor would never be in vain. He knew that the Lord's work would certainly come to completion in those he had led to Christ. It is God alone who saves, sanctifies, and sustains us until the end. And God always finishes what he starts!
Are there times when you feel spiritually depleted and wonder if the Lord has given up on you? Did you begin your walk with God with great excitement, only to arrive at a place of confusion and doubt? Stop for a moment and remember... You are God's work and He always finishes what he starts! 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Help is always near...

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." - Psalm 46:1 
I left the house the other day without my cell phone. I immediately returned to retrieve the little "necessity". Most of us have grown attached to these little guys for a variety of reasons. We feel like the officers on Star Trek, who were always in touch with the Starship through their communicators. When we have our trusty cell phone by our side, we know that help is always near.
While we are centuries away from the writing of this Psalm, we are still in need of a refuge, strength and help in trouble. The modern development of cell phones may be a great comfort when traveling, but it will never compare to the presence of God. He is far more than a resource who provides or delegates, HE is our refuge, strength and help himself. When we walk with the Lord, we know that help is always near.
Are you feeling alone today? Are there overwhelming fears that fill your heart? Do you feel like your communicator is out of range with no signal bars on the screen? Then I recommend that you "Be still and know that He is God" and gain a fresh sense that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

Friday, May 18, 2018

The "Fifth Wheel"...

"Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith." - 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
I have a very nice office chair. It rolls on five wheels and moves whenever and wherever I desire. Recently one of the wheels broke into a million pieces. For a while I replaced it with a tennis ball... but that didn't do the job. The whole chair lost its value and effectiveness because one wheel was gone. I needed five wheels, not just four.
Ministry is a lot like that chair. We can be well prepared with all the training and skill available, but without the fifth wheel of prayer, we won't roll. Paul was a premier missionary with a stellar record of conversions and successful church plants. He was thoroughly studied in the Scriptures and could stand toe to toe with any philosopher of his day. Yet, to keep rolling, he needed "fifth wheel" people who would pray for his ministry.
Your pastors and missionaries have been called of God, academically prepared, and chock full of experience. But they will never roll for God on a tennis ball. They need the fifth wheel of prayer. My friend, you can be, and need to be that wheel. "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored".

Thursday, May 17, 2018

God's Lighthouses...

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." - 2 Thessalonians 2:15 
We collect lighthouses. We visit them while on vacation and regularly add to our collection of miniatures and pictures. Lighthouses remind us of being a light in the darkness and a guide to wayward. They are those great stone edifices that stand firm in the storms and send forth the light that saves from a watery grave. God also places lighthouses on the shores of this world to save souls from eternal damnation.
Paul writes of coming days of increasing evil and tribulation. He assures believers of their deliverance from this time, but until those days arrive he calls us to stand firm and hold to the teachings passed down to us. The winds of time may bring change, but the truth remains the same: Those who refuse to love the truth will perish, and those believe the truth will live eternally. As we spread the light of this truth, we are God's lighthouses.
There is no lighthouse of worth that doesn't stand firm in the midst of the storm. The lighthouse serves the mariner with the same purpose today as it did hundreds of years ago: it gives light to show the way to safety. Stand firm my friend, hold to the teachings passed down to you and be the lighthouse that God called you to be.