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Friday, May 31, 2019

Learning To Have a Conversation with My Creator

In review of Psalm 116:1-2 it says, “I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT).

Today’s passage is from the first part of Psalm 116. In it the psalmist says, I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him.

God is so responsive that I can always reach him. He bends down and listens to my voice. My worship is a thankful response and not a repayment for what God had for what God has done. So when I'm discouraged, I can remember that God is near, listening carefully to every prayer and answering me in order to give his best.

What I’m learning is that on the days when I have deep, significant talks with God, my relationship grows. On the days when I have little or no conversation with God, my relationship decays. It’s that simple.

When I really love somebody, I don’t just want to spend time together. I want to talk with that person. Just like when I first fell in love as a teenager and my parents got upset because I was always on the phone? I talked and talked and talked because I was getting to know that person. Communication is how I get to know others.

So what do I talk about if I want to express love to God? Well, anything that I’d talk to my closest friend about: my hopes, fears, dreams, anxieties, the things I’m embarrassed about, the things I’m proud of, the things I’m ashamed of, my goals, ambitions, hurts, and cares, basically every part of my life.

If I don’t feel close to God because my daily walk has become routine, dull, joyless, and lifeless, there’s a simple remedy: Start talking to God again.

Prayer is not some duty that I have to do. It’s a privilege that I get to do. I get to talk to the Creator of the universe! He’s waiting on me to have a conversation with him so that my relationship can grow.

Bottom Line:
Love the Lord, for he hears your prayers when you call to him.

What this means to me:
I love the Lord, for he hears my prayers every time I call to him.

In summary, God hears me, he listens to my prayers. He listens each time I call to him. My worship is a thankful response, not a repayment. When I have deep, significant talks, my relationship grows. When I have little or no conversation, my relationship decays. Talking and communication is how we get to know others. I can talk to God about anything I may talk to my closest friend about. If I feel I'm not close to God, start talking with him again. He's waiting on me.

I’ve been thinking lately that I no longer have a local / close friend. I live a fairly isolated life. I have my wife who’s my closest confident. I have work acquaintances, employees and leaders, but not a close friend. I do spend time each week work day in time in God’s Word, but not necessarily in an interactive conversation with God. This morning I’m going to practice opening up my hopes, fears, dreams, anxieties, the things I’m embarrassed about, the things I’m proud of, the things I’m ashamed of, my goals, ambitions, hurts, and cares, basically every part of my life with God.

I also pray this morning Father for your continued wisdom and guidance in handling my work responsibilities, leadership and interaction with others. This I pray through your son Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Learning to Decide What’s Best, Not Just What’s Good

In review of 1 Corinthians 10:23, it reminds me that "I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV).

Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:23. In it Paul explains that everything is permitted, but everything isn’t beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn’t build others up.

It can be hard to know when to defer. Paul gives me a simple rule of thumb to help in making the decision: I should be sensitive and gracious. The goal is not a general hypersensitivity that worries about what others might possibly think, rather, it is a genuine awareness of others and a willingness to limit what I do when there is a real possibility of misunderstanding and offense. Some actions may not be wrong, but they may not be in the best interest of others. I have freedom in Christ, but I shouldn't exercise my freedom at the cost of hurting others. I am not to consider only myself; I must also consider the needs and perspectives of others.

Some things are not necessarily wrong; they’re just not necessary. Most choices I make in life are not really a matter between good and bad. They’re more a matter of what’s best for me and others.

Some things are morally neutral. So to make a good decision, I need to go to a higher standard and ask, “Will I become a better person because of what I’m about to do?” It’s called the improvement test.

When it comes to time and my choices, am I more interested in fictional people on TV than I am  in Paul and Peter and the disciples and what God wants to do in my life? Do I invest my time in the shallow lives of people who fill celebrity magazines? Are you glued to TV episodes from the moment I get home on Friday until Monday morning?

Are these things evil? No. Are they bad? No. But the question is not, “Is there anything wrong with it?” The question is, “Will it make me more like Jesus?”

Bottom Line:
While everything is permitted it isn't always beneficial or constructive.

What this means to me:
While things are permitted, they aren't always beneficial, constructive or helpful for building others up.

In summary, while there are a lot of things that are permitted, the question is are they beneficial or build others up? In making the decision I need to be sensitive and gracious. It should be made with a genuine awareness of others and a willingness to limit what I do when there is a real possibility of misunderstanding and offense. Most choices are not really a matter between good and bad. They are a matter of what's best for me and others.

Father, this morning I ask and pray that you help me be conscience of my choices and whether they are beneficial or helping to build up others. I also ask you for your wisdom and guidance in my work, choices, leadership and interactions with others. This I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Consider How I Use My Time and Talents

In review of Hebrews 13:20-21 it says, “May the God of peace . . . equip you with all you need for doing his will” (TLB).

Today’s passage is from the last part of Hebrews 13. In it Paul says, may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

God works in me to make me the kind of individual that would please him, and he equips me to do the kind of work that would please him.

The principle of “use it or lose it” is universal. If I don’t exercise, my muscles get smaller. If I don’t invest my money, I’m going to lose it. If I don’t learn to use my mind, it will get duller and duller as I get older. If I have a talent and I refuse to practice, I’ll lose that talent. If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it.

The opposite is also true. If I do use it, I’ll get even more of it. So if I use my muscles, they get bigger. If I take a little bit of money and invest it wisely, it gets bigger. It multiplies!

Today I should consider what I need more of in my life? Energy, time, money, or talent?

What I’m learning is that whatever I need more of, take the little I’ve got and start using it to serve others unselfishly. Then watch God multiply it. If I think, “I don’t have time to serve or minister to others. I already don’t have time to get all the things done I need to do. How could I add anything else?” Why do I think I don’t have time? Because God never meant for me to spend all my time on myself! Why would God give me more time if I’m just going to spend it on myself?

It’s like the principle of tithing, where the first 10 percent of all I make goes back to God. Why? Because when I give that 10 percent back to God, God takes the other 90 percent and makes it stretch further than it would have if I kept 100 percent myself. It's just as true with my time or talent. That’s true with anything in life.

If I don’t use it, I lose it. And the way I get more is by investing whatever I’ve got. Watch and see how God will give me everything I need, and more, for doing his will when I use my time, money, and talent for him.

Bottom Line:
God equips us to do the things that please him.

What this means to me:
It is God who equips me to do the kind of work that pleases him.

In summary, God equips me with everything good for doing his will and what is pleasing to him. I need to "use it or lose it". If I use it, I'll get even more of it. Whatever I need more of, take the little I've got and start using it to serve others unselfishly. Then watch God multiply it. If I think I don't have enough time, consider that God never meant for me to spend all my time on myself. Why would God give me more if I"m just going to spend it on myself. The way I get more is by investing what I have. Watch and see how he grows it.

Father I think I really need to consider how I can use my time to serve others. I need to get over not thinking I have enough time. I need to consider how I’m using my time and take the step forward toward investing in others. Father I pray for your help with this. I also ask for your wisdom in how I handle my day; my work commitments, my interaction with others and my leadership. Help me to be what you’ve designed me to do. I pray this through your Son Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Is What I’m Doing the Best Use of My Life?

In review of Ephesians 5:15-17 it says, “Be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise. Live wisely. I mean that you should use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish with your lives. But learn what the Lord wants you to do” (ICB).

Today’s verse is from Ephesians 5. In it Paul tells me to be very careful, how I live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

By referring to these days as evil, Paul was communicating his sense of urgency because of evil's pervasiveness. I need the same sense of urgency because my days are also difficult. I must keep my standards high, act wisely, and do good whenever I can.

If I want to make an impact with my life, I’ve got to do one thing: Get control of my time. My time is my life. If I don’t learn to manage my time, I’ll limit the legacy of my life.

Everyone has the same amount of time every week: 168 hours. It’s what I do with it that counts! I’ve only been allotted a certain number of days in this world, and if I waste them, I’ve blown it! If I waste time, I’m wasting my life. My time is my life. I need to consider, “Is this the best use of my time? Is this the best use of my life?”

I don’t have time for everything. The good news is that God doesn’t expect me to do everything. So don’t feel guilty about it! There are only a few things worth doing in the first place.

Effective people figure out what’s essential in life and what’s trivial, and they spend more time doing the essential things and less time doing the trivial things. I can’t eliminate all the trivia in my life, but I can reduce it.

This sounds easy, but frankly it’s often difficult to choose between what’s best for and what’s easiest for my life, especially when I’m tired. When I’m tired I don’t want to do the best thing. I’ll tend to do what’s easy. That’s why if I’m really going to make something of my life, I have to learn to get some rest. If I’m not rested, I won’t have the mental, emotional, and physical strength to say, “I’m going to do the right thing instead of the easiest thing.”

I shouldn’t waste life. I shouldn’t settle for second best. I shouldn’t just go through life just existing. I was not created to just coast. God made me for a mission and a purpose. That starts by asking, “Is what I’m doing the best use of my life?”

Bottom Line:
Live wisely, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way by understanding God's will.

What this means to me:
I need to be wise and make the most of every opportunity that I have. I need to understand what God's will is and do it.

In summary, I need to be careful in how I live, I need to be wise and make the most of every opportunity. So I shouldn’t be foolish, but rather understand what the Lord's will is. I need to keep my standards high and do good whenever I can. To make impact I need to get control of my time. I don't have time for everything, and God doesn't expect me to. There are only a few things worth doing in the first place. An effective person will spend more time doing the essential things and less time doing that which is trivial. God made me for a mission and a purpose. It starts with me asking, "Is what I'm doing the best use of my life?"

Today’s study ties into some thoughts I was having yesterday and doing what God’s will for my life is. Lately I’ve just been working and serving behind the scenes, but not doing much to advance his kingdom and making a true impact on others lives. I need to consider my time and what I’m using it for. How can I be effectively used to advance his Kingdom by sharing the good news to make a lasting impact on others lives. Father I pray that you will continue to give me your thoughts and to know how I can more effectively fulfill your purpose for me. Today I also ask for your guidance and wisdom in my work, tasks, leadership and interaction with others. These things I pray through your Son Jesus name, amen.

Friday, May 24, 2019

What Happens When I Do What I Know Is Wrong?

In review of Proverbs 10:9 it reminds me that “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (NIV).

Today’s verse comes from Proverbs 10. In verse 9 I’m told that those with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.

This means if I follow crooked or wrong paths I will be found out! So when making decisions, I need the integrity test. The test of integrity is that my public life and private life match, what’s in my heart and what’s in my life are the same thing. I would ask myself, “Would I want everyone to know about this decision that I’m making?” The truth is, when it comes to integrity, even if I can fool everyone else, I can’t fool myself. And if I violate my own conscience, I’ll have to pay for that.

Sometimes I know I’m about to do the wrong thing. I know I shouldn’t do it, but this thought comes to my mind: “I know I’m doing the wrong thing, but I’m going to go ahead and do it because I know God is a forgiving God.”

I can’t do something that God says is wrong and not have consequences. This is the very reason he doesn’t want me to make that decision, because he loves me, not because he wants to keep me from having fun. God knows there are consequences to every decision. He knows every bad decision leaves scars. He wants better for me.

This doesn’t mean that God does not forgive me for the wrong things I do. He’s a forgiving and gracious God. But that forgiveness does not free me from the pain and the consequences that come from bad decisions. I can be forgiven and still have regrets. I can be forgiven and still face pain. I can be forgiven and still have a broken relationship.

Romans 14:14 says, “If someone believes it is wrong, then he shouldn’t do it because for him it is wrong” (TLB). This verse simply says that when in doubt, don’t. It’s a violation of the integrity test. Whatever is not from faith in our lives is sin.

Bottom Line:
Walk in integrity and be safe. Dishonesty or wrongdoing will be exposed.

What this means to me:
If I walk in integrity I will be on a firm foundation and be secure. But if I'm dishonest I'll be found out and exposed.

In summary, those with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed. The test of integrity is that my public and private life match. Ask, would I want everyone to know about this decision that I'm making? I can't do something that God says is wrong and not have consequences. God knows there are consequences to every decision. This doesn't mean that God does not forgive me, but that forgiveness does not free me from the pain an the consequences that come from bad decisions.

Father this is a great reminder for me for decisions I make. I need to be making them in the firm foundation of what you and your Word teach me. There is no escaping the consequences of doing wrong. My wrongdoing will eventually be found out and or I’ll need to deal with the consequences of that decision. This morning Father I pray for your guidance in my decisions and in the work I have in front of me. Help me to lead and interact today with wisdom and your guidance. These things I pray through your Son Jesus name, amen.

God Has Already Written the Final Chapter of My Life

In review of 1 Peter 1:3-4, I read   “All praise to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . It is by his great mercy that we have been ...