MY FIRST HURRICANE: DAY ONE

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2019

Karen and I have made all the necessary preparations for hurricane Dorian. It has now been upgraded to a Category 4 Hurricane. The news reports say that this possibly will be the storm of a generation for the state of Florida, as the storms path is projected to cover the entire state.

Yet, as we sit in our living room, drinking coffee, and reading God’s Word, we look out upon the sunshine with a beautiful blue sky. How can the storm of a generation be almost upon us?

This made me think about the times in life when a great trial is right around the corner. We are totally unaware of it, although we know that trials are a part of life. In the midst of the calm we are currently experiencing we feel the sunshine will continue indefinitely. So, how do we stay in a position of readiness so that the storms of life do not take us by surprise?

God has given us common sense, and the wisdom and experience of others who have gone through the storms before us. We need to heed this wisdom and advice. To ignore it is to turn our back on God’s provision for our protection. We also need to place our full and complete trust in the protection and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even when the storms of life are raging, He can calm the storm with but one word. We may not see everything calm around us, but in the midst of the storm we can always see Jesus!

  • “You made him lower than the angels for a short time; you crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet. For in subjecting everything to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. But we do see Jesus — made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone — crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death.” Hebrews 2:7-9 CSB

Lord, help me to see Jesus!

In Jesus Name!

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MY JOB IS TO SOW!

ECCLESIASTES 11:1, 5-6:   “Send your bread on the surface of the water, for after many days you may find it…

Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman, so also you don’t know the work of God who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I holding on to the seed God has given to me? Have I allowed fear and disappointment to intimidate me? Did I really receive a vision from the Lord, or I am simply being presumptuous?

These are the thoughts and questions that I was wresting with as I read these verses from Ecclesiastes chapter 11. To anyone who believes they have received a calling from the Lord, these verses will speak to you too!

The Kingdom of God is one of sowing and reaping. Sometimes we are sowing and sometimes we are reaping. In all of our activity it is God who gives the increase. And, the level of increase is fully up to Him. The calling in our life is to keep sowing. Yet, when we do not see any results from our sowing it can become discouraging. The enemy will use this discouragement to try and keep us from doing the things the Lord has called us to. Yet, we have a sure promise!

  • “Send your bread on the surface of the water, for after many days you may find it.”

Doing good for the Kingdom of God, using our gifts to proclaim the Gospel and to glorify Jesus Christ, will always produce fruit. The mystery of the Kingdom is that it does not always produce fruit in the way that we expect. And it is our expectations that set us up for disappointment. Yet, God is always at work! He is watching over the precious seed we have sown. And, in His mystery, He is bringing forth a harvest!

  • “Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman, so also you don’t know the work of God who makes everything.”

Recently I have been sowing a lot of seed. It seems like I have been sowing without any result. A lot of effort and prayer have gone into this sowing. And, to be totally honest, my expectations have set me up for disappointment. I have begun to forget the principle and the promise of sowing and reaping.

  • “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9 CSB

In sowing and reaping it is really not about me at all. I should rejoice and feel privileged to simply be called to sow the seed of the Kingdom. It is all about Jesus, it is all about the Kingdom, and what God does with my efforts are fully up to Him and solely for His glory. My job is very simple.

My job is to sow!

I need to take my expectations, my ego, and even the vision I feel I have received from the Lord, and lay them upon the altar. If all I am called to do is sow, and another reaps the harvest of my efforts, then to God be the glory!

My job is to sow!

I must be found using the gifts and talents that the Lord has given to me each and every day to the fullest of my ability by the grace that has been given unto me.

  • “For I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-11 CSB

A dear friend of mine, Bob Sanders, Founder of Baja Christian Ministries (a life saving outreach to the poor of Baja California), loves to tell the story of the young boy on the seashore who was trying to rescue starfish. A great host of starfish had washed up on the shore. The young boy was trying to rescue them, one by one, before the sun dried them out and they died. An old fisherman came by and mocked the young boy. He said – “You can never save these starfish. Your efforts are futile. You will never make a difference.” The young boy looked at the old fisherman as he took a starfish in his hand, and as he threw it back into the ocean, he said – “It made a difference for this one!”

My job is to sow!

Lord, this morning I need to come humbly to Your cross. I need to lay down all of my expectations and I need to take up the mantle of faithfulness. I know, according to the promise of Your Word, that if I continue to sow, I will reap a harvest. I may not always see this harvest, but it is taking place in lives and hearts that I may never know, or may never meet. Your Word never goes forth void. It accomplishes all that You have proclaimed. Give me grace to continue to sow – joyfully, faithfully, and in full assurance of the harvest You are producing!

My job is to sow!

  • “In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.”

In Jesus Name!

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IS GRACE A “GET OUT OF JAIL” CARD?

TITUS 2:11-13: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Do I understand the power of God’s grace? Do I confuse grace with mercy? Is grace something that is influencing and changing my life moment by moment and day by day?

When I was growing up, one of the favorite summer activities we had in our neighborhood was playing Monopoly. This was before the dawn of all day cartoon channels, computers, tablets, and smart phones. The summer days would seem to last forever. After you played some hoops, or over the line baseball, there was still a long day ahead. We would fill this with countless games of Monopoly.

The “Meadow Falls Drive” Monopoly tournament was a traveling game. It would go from house to house. And each kid had his own board. There was an unwritten rule in our tournaments. The house established the rules. This altered the game a bit, but it also made it ever changing and fun. Yet, in all of its forms, one thing remained constant. One of the most coveted cards to possess was the “Get Out of Jail” card.

Whenever I got one of these cards I would hide it under the board. I knew that this was really silly, but I convinced myself that it gave me an edge. It was mine to use or not use when I got into trouble. I did not fear landing on the “Go to Jail” square because I had this card hidden away for such an occasion.

As a believer, and as an adult, I realize this is the way I have treated grace for much of my life. I knew that God loved me, I knew that He would forgive me, and I kept this truth tucked away under the board of my heart in case I needed it. Grace had become my “Get Out of Jail” card. This is a misuse and a gross misunderstanding of grace.

This is not to say that God’s grace is not extended to us when we sin. Yet, it is more His mercy that is extended rather than His grace.

  • “If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9 CSB

God’s grace, His unmerited favor and love, is why He came to die for our sins. His mercy held back the judgment that we all deserved in light of the cross. We are now saved by His unmerited favor and love, through faith, when we put our trust in Christ alone! His love now does not come to save us. Rather, as those who are saved, His love comes to empower us and instruct us. It is not a “Get Out of Jail” card. His grace is the power to live a godly life in an ungodly world!

  • “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…”

We live in a world filled with wickedness. It is a broken world, a godless world, a confused world. What can empower us, teach us, and guide us through this difficult maze? It is the grace of God! The Word of God is the message of His grace. The Spirit of God is the provision of His grace. Through the Spirit and the Word we are instructed in the pathway of righteousness, we are enable to walk in wisdom, and we are empowered to avoid the pitfalls of sin and darkness.

As we move around the board of life we will fail. This is where I John 1:8-9 comes to play. However, grace is not a pass to just fail and run back for forgiveness. This is a misunderstanding of grace. God’s mercy forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Then, God’s grace equips us and teaches us how to avoid making the same mistake. The final verses in Titus chapter 2 tells it all.

  • “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works. Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Titus 2:14-15 CSB

This truth is also proclaimed in the verse following Ephesians 2:8-9.

  • “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 CSB

Grace is given to prepare us, equip us, and teach us how to be like Jesus Christ. It is our “Advance to Go” on the Monopoly board of life. It is not a “Get Out of Jail” card. It is our empowerment to live a godly life in an ungodly world.

Lord, forgive me for the many times I have leaned upon Your grace as an excuse for my failures, rather than embracing Your grace as the power to overcome and live a godly life. Empower me today by Your grace. Teach me, lead me, and help me to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age – by Your great grace!

In Jesus Name!

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MAN’S UNENDING SEARCH FOR ETERNITY…

ECCLESIASTES 3:1, 11: “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:…He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 CSB

OBSERVATION: What does eternity have to do with it? Everything!

Have you noticed the difference between someone who knows the answer to eternity and the one who is continually searching for the answer? There is a peace and sense of security in the one who knows the answer to eternity. And, there is a perpetual searching and frustration in the one who does not. The reality is, everyone is hungering for the answer to eternity. Why? God has placed this hunger in every person’s heart.

Man, on his own, never finds the way to eternity. The history of the Old Testament teaches us many things. It shows us that miraculous provision from heaven, and the manifest presence of God working miracles in one’s life, does not answer the question of eternity. It show the reality of the God who holds the answer. Yet, the miraculous is not the answer. How many times did the children of Israel wander away from the one who miraculously provided?

For ages, people have looked for the answer to eternity in so many different places. They have looked to the stars, to creation, to their accomplishments, to pleasure, and even to wisdom. All one has to do is read the book of Ecclesiastes to see that even Solomon did not find the answer in any of these. And, when a person continually comes up short in their pursuit of eternity, they live their life with a growing sense of angst and discontentment.

This is where we find ourselves today. We have more provision, more wisdom, more accomplishments, than any time in history. And yet, we live in a culture that is increasingly lost, angry, and discontent. And, when one comes with the true answer of eternity, they are met with hostility and are immediately dismissed. The frustrated person views the one who walks in the peace and contentment of eternal certainty as ignorant, arrogant, and an enemy to their quest. While, all the time they are really the messenger of hope and life.

God knew that mankind would never find the answer to eternity on their own. Even though it was God Himself that put the hunger to search for eternity in man’s heart, He knew that man’s sin would keep him searching endlessly, but never being able to find it. So, God in His infinite wisdom and love, brought eternity to man.

  • “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 CSB

The Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to proclaim the answer to man’s search. It was not in a pursuit or an accomplishment. The answer to eternity and all of life’s questions is found in a relationship. God, in human flesh, came to live among us and offer to us a personal relationship with Himself. It is only in this relationship that we find the answer to eternity!

So, that seems pretty simple. Why doesn’t everyone gladly receive this invitation, by grace through faith, to believe in Jesus Christ? That is a question anyone who knows Jesus struggles with. It seems so simple to them. Why would anyone reject this wonderful relationship that brings such a sense of life, understanding, and the certainty of eternal life? John gives us the answer in the verses following.

  • “Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:18-21 CSB

To discover eternity one has to walk into the light. To walk into the light one has to let go of their sin, the works of darkness. And, this sin is not always a transgression of God’s laws. Many times this sin is the unwillingness to let go of one’s lofty pursuit of eternity based on their own terms. Pride, as much as sin, keeps people in the darkness. The light is not a teaching, it is a person. The light that came into the world is Jesus Christ Himself. And Jesus makes a strong demand on those who desire to discover eternity. They must deny everything, including themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Him!

  • “Now great crowds were traveling with him. So he turned and said to them: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, and even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-27 CSB

God came to earth to show us the way to eternity with Him. He lived, died, and rose from the dead to show us the pathway to life. Our hunger and our search find their answer and rest in Christ alone. There is no other answer, no other pursuit, that will lead to the fulfillment that every man and woman in this life are seeking. It is so simple, but it costs everything. We lay down our life in order to discover our true life, our eternal life. This is the only way. To persist in sin and pride, however noble our pursuit may seem in the eyes of the world, will only lead to continued angst, frustration, and emptiness.

When I was a young man Andre Crouch recorded a song entitled, “Jesus is the Answer.” The chorus went like this,

  • “Jesus is the answer, for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.”

Many have mocked this song and said – “If Jesus is the answer, what is the question?” The question is eternity! It is the question that is burning in every heart, in every man and woman who walk upon the face of this earth. And its answer is found in a person, not in a pursuit. Its answer is found in Jesus Christ!

  • “But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13 CSB

Have you found the answer?

In Jesus Name!

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HOW DO WE USE GOD’S TRUTH?

II TIMOTHY 2:24-26: “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” CSB

OBSERVATION: How should God’s people respond to those who oppose the truth? How can we walk in peace while we battle for the truth of the Gospel? What is the real source of the battle – behind the battle?

These are worthy things to consider in this highly charged and divided culture that we find ourselves in. On one side are those who are trying to vilify those who stand up for Biblical values. On the other are those who are taking their battle positions, but many without knowledge. When we draw lines with weapons (even verbal weapons), we are positioning ourselves for a war. In all of this the believer must check their motives and their heart.

When someone throws kerosine on any conversation, we must be careful that we don’t throw a match in retaliation. Quarreling never accomplishes anything. It only causes a fire to erupt that burns both parties. Yet, gentleness, with instruction in the truth, is like water on a roaring fire. It may not put out the fire that is raging from the other side, but it protects the one with the water of truth. However, if I succumb to temptation, and begin throwing fire, I too will be burned!

I remember when I grew up in Diamond Bar, California. The area I lived in used to be a large ranch. As it developed, we were surrounded by hills. The grass would grow tall in the winter, and then dry out and become a fire hazard in the summer. It seemed like every year the hills would burn. When there was a threat of fire danger, or when a fire erupted, we would stand with a hose and water down our shake shingle roofs. This was to keep it from catching fire from a floating ember. I think we need to get our hoses out in the current political and social climate we find ourselves living in.

Truth does not need to be yielded with a hammer. It only needs to be spoken. It can be spoken in gentleness, because the power of truth is not in the presentation, it is in the substance. Truth is powerful, simply because it is truth. In the midst of darkness, truth stands out as a light that pushes the darkness back! Jesus is the essence of all truth. They tried to push Him back, they tried to kill the truth, yet His truth defeated sin, death, and the grave! Our truth can do the same!

  • “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:4-5 CSB

We have to keep one thing in mind when we are proclaiming the truth in love in a hate charged society. The enemy we are facing is never the individual. The enemy is the devil and his entrapment of the individual in the lies that bind them. They are striking out simply because they are bound and controlled by the enemy. And, the reality is, they do not know it. Remember, the great Apostle Paul imprisoned and killed Christians, thinking he was doing God’s work, until he met the truth (Jesus) on the road to Damascus.

When we are young we are ready for battle. Armies do not enlist old men to go to war and fight on the front lines. Yet, Paul calls young Timothy to temper his enthusiasm with gentleness and wisdom. Paul reminds Timothy that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the crafty and deceitful plans of the the devil. And, Paul reminds Timothy that our goal is not to prove we are right, but to lead people into the freedom that is found only in Christ Jesus!

  • “Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

As I write this I am speaking to my own heart. I am not a young man any more, but I am tempted many times to strike out in the zeal of my youth. I need to fight the battles I face from my knees. When I am on my knees I am surrendered to the Lord, positioned in prayer, and open to His voice and leading. To fight the battles on my knees does not mean I do not speak the truth. It simply means I do not charge ahead with the truth outside of the timing of God, and without the heart of God.

God’s heart is always directed toward the restoration and salvation of sinners. Even when he hung on the cross, Jesus looked upon those who mocked him and rejected the truth and said – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Paul ultimately was martyred for his proclamation of the truth. However, Paul was not martyred for his delivery of the truth. His delivery was with gentleness and confidence in the one in whom He believed!

Lord, thank you for reminding me of this important truth today. You did not give me the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, as a weapon to destroy those who oppose the truth. You gave me this weapon to destroy the one who holds those who oppose Your truth in chains. Your sword is given to overcome the enemy, to break the chains of darkness, and to set the captives free. Help me to use this sword wisely, with gentleness and precision, and always in love!

In Jesus Name!

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WILL I MAKE IT THROUGH?

II TIMOTHY 1:8-10: “So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Will I make it through? When everything seems to be piling up one by one, and I am at my breaking point, is there still hope? What does my weakness remind me of during these times?

Have you ever been at a breaking point in your life? I am not talking about when you face a few small problems. I am talking about when one mountain piles up on another, and another, and another, and another. This is where I find myself at this moment of writing and reflection. This is not to rehearse my current woes in order to illicit sympathy. This is to process these events in light of God’s Word and the truth that sustains me.

Here is a list of what I am facing at the moment. I have faced recent health issues that have left ongoing concerns and a large hospital bill. I am part of a health sharing network, but still have not seen anything in sharing yet, and have had to pay these bills out of pocket. On top of this, we lost our tenants for our leased home in Texas. I am now paying a second mortgage, all expenses, and utilities, while we try to find another tenant. And, in my job, we are facing one of the biggest customer issues that could actually take down our company if not handled right. And, yes, I am the one holding the ball. Finally, I am facing personal attacks and disappointments that are striking me at the very core of my being.

Why do I share all of this? Because this morning, as I opened the Word of God, and sat in reflective prayer, I did not know where to go and what to do. And, then, in my daily reading, the Lord reminded me of His faithfulness through Paul’s letter to young Timothy.

  • “So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.”

I have felt there has been a great dimension of spiritual warfare in the list above. All of this as we are still trying to adjust to a new community, and I am trying to launch a new ministry and follow God’s leading. I have felt like a boxer on the ropes. Unable to make progress. Unable to see ahead. I know the enemy’s tactics. He tries to wear us down in order to get us to give up. Yet, Paul reminded Timothy where his power came from. It was not from Timothy’s resolve. It was from the power of God! The only way we can face the mounting difficulties we face in life is through the power of God!

I needed to hear this. When I look at my power tank, it is both empty, and there is a large gaping hole in the side. Yet, when I look at God’s power tank, it is always full, always sufficient, always available! Paul had learned this through the personal battle with his “thorn in the flesh.” And, now Paul was trying to remind Timothy and encourage him in the midst of Timothy’s battles.

Paul also called Timothy to reflect on his calling. Many times when we go through the fire we feel like God has forgotten us, or that our calling is somehow void because of our weaknesses. Yet, our calling is never based on our efforts or performance. Our calling is based on God’s love, grace, and mercy!

  • “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

His calling, and His faithfulness to fulfill His calling in us, is testified through His life, death, and most importantly His resurrection. When He rolled away the stone from that dark tomb, He proclaimed that He would roll away the stone from every tomb and trial we face in our life. We know that we will make it through every trial of this life because of the fact that we have been transferred from mortality into immortality though Him who has loved us. If we are immortal in Him, we will make it all the way! And so Paul goes on to say to young Timothy,

  • “For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:11-12 CSB

Lord, this morning, thank You for Your Word. Thank you for Your calling. Thank You for the empty tomb. And, thank You for the wonder of knowing You. Like Paul, may I be fully persuaded that You are both guarding me, and that You are fulfilling in my life all that has been decreed and entrusted by Your grace – until that day!

Until that day…

In Jesus Name!

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AM I PURSUING “GODLINESS”?

I TIMOTHY 4:7-9: “But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance.” CSB

OBSERVATION: How much time do I give to exercising my spiritual life? If I created a pie chart of all the things that occupy my life, what would it look like? How big would the slice of pie be that is devoted to training myself in godliness?

Life is tough. It is filled with responsibilities, challenges, and demands. And, life is short. In the blink of an eye, the high-schooler that was walking down the isle to receive his diploma, is now making the last minute adjustments to his retirement plan. And, in the midst of all this, there is the concern for our health. Someone has said, you can have everything in life, but if you don’t have your health, you really have nothing.

So, our culture is unduly focused on health and appearance. There is always a new weight loss plan, or the next great exercise machine that will do it all in the comfort of your home. Creams, lotions, and miracle pills are marketed to allow one to maintain that youthful appearance. It seems there is a preoccupation with the external man, and a loss of focus on the spiritual man.

Recently, I came across a great quote. Someone said, “We always hear, life is short, do everything you can to enjoy it now! However, we should be saying, life is eternal, do everything you can to prepare for it now!” One has its focus on the clock that is running out. The other on the great expanse of what will be. Godliness focuses on the eternal. It recognizes that everything in this life is passing away.

  • “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 CSB

Like many, I have lost some dear loved ones. I have said goodbye to my parents, and to one of my closest friends. Yet, all of them knew the Lord. They are not lost, they have simply passed over the bridge of life into eternity. This life is not short. It is the opportunity of preparing for the next life that has no end.

In reality, this life is no different than the 9 months we spent in our mother’s womb. During that time we focused on the development of our body. We really didn’t do anything. God did it all! And now, in this life, we are called to focus on the things that are eternal. To make godliness, becoming like Jesus Christ, our chief goal. It is not how many toys we have when we die that counts. Rather, it is how much we have become like Jesus.

When we focus on godliness, we receive two benefits. Paul told Timothy, “…but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Godliness, focusing on the development of our spiritual life, will do more to impact our health and well being in this life than any retirement plan, exercise machine, or miracle cream. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control will actually improve our health and give us a radiance in life that nothing else can!

Yes, we still need to be wise with our finances, plan for our retirement, eat well, and exercise. This is good stewardship of the gifts God has given us. However, we need to look at the pie chart of our life. The piece that represents our pursuit of godliness needs to grow. We need to spend more time in the Word of God, worship, prayer, and service in the Kingdom. In other words, we need to exercise the inner man on a daily basis!

I have seen many a person’s faith shipwrecked by misplaced priorities. They once had a promising and growing ministry. Pursuing godliness, they naturally came under attack. And, when they reallocated their devotion to the wrong areas of life, they quickly lost their zeal, and their spiritual life began to decline. The results have not been pretty. In the wake of these decisions are failed marriages, wounded children, and derailed ministries. This is exactly what the enemy wants!

The enemy cannot steal our soul once we belong to Jesus Christ. Therefore, he will try to steal everything else! His desire is to bankrupt us for the next life so that we enter into it – “…as through fire.” What is our greatest defense? It is the pursuit of godliness! It is keeping Jesus the center of our life! It is focusing on the inner man above all else!

Lord, help me to grow in godliness. Help me to become more like Jesus Christ. Direct my focus to heavenly things. Give me eyes that see the eternal, grace to pursue it, and faith to persevere.

  • “For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance.”

In Jesus Name!

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