Some people think maturity comes with age; however, being a certain age does not make you a wise old sage. You really have no choice when it comes to aging; however, it takes some effort to wisely mature.
Growth of this kind is a common topic in the Bible:
- Peter reminded Christians to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).”
- In what he thought would be his last communication with the elders from Ephesus, Paul said: “I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).”
- Solomon offered this word of advice in the Proverbs: “You gullible people, learn how to be sensible. You fools, get a heart that has understanding (8:5).”
While I was reading in Philippians yesterday, I noticed something interesting. Paul gives a clear indicator of maturity: “Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way (Philippians 3:13-15).”
According to this verse, you show signs of maturity when:
- You are not bound by the chains of the past.
- You choose to invest in the future
- You pursue a relationship with Jesus.
- You discipline yourself to control your thoughts so you can “think this way.”
I hope this mature thought from Paul will keep you thinking:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Philippians 4:8-9 ~The Message
What is the significance of the number 51? If you are counting to 100, it means you are over half there, or that you still have 49 numbers to go. If you are celebrating a birthday, you can now say: “I’m more than half a century old.”
If you are among a special class of mothers, it means your heart is broken. It means that the precious child you held in your arms as a baby is now gone—killed in the line of duty.
51! 50 +1 police officers gave their lives in 2014 as they did their best to protect and serve the people and communities where they lived. In 2013 the FBI reported that 27 officers died in the line of duty. This was the smallest number in a single year since 1980.
When I think of these sad and startling statistics, I’m reminded of the words of Paul to Timothy:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
~I Timothy 2:1-4
Is our society void of a “peaceful and quiet life” because “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” are not being made for our government officials and on behalf of our law enforcement officers?
Please join me in praying for their safety and protection and for the collective mindset of our nation as a whole.
An article in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post caught my attention: “The U.S. military has boosted security at all of its stateside bases and stations, broad recognition that the United States has heightened its awareness of a possible attack inspired by the Islamic State militant group, U.S. officials said Friday.”
With this report following on the heels of the recent incident in Garland, Texas, it was a frequent topic of discussion on Saturday morning. When the security level is raised it gets a person’s attention.
Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren said: “The military believes there is an increased and predictable security threat at home, with extra precautions, ID checks and searches launched across the country. It does not mean that an attack is considered imminent, however.”
How would your behavior change if you were told the danger is most certainly “imminent”? You may not be aware of it, but here is a statement that warns you are in grave danger!
Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering. ~I Peter 5:8-9
Watch your back, there’s a lion on the prowl.
For the most part, I love the spring season of the year. I did say, “for the most part.” When it comes to the “part” that requires me to trim the 100 foot of hedges, I rethink my love affection for spring. There are some days that I work all day in the yard, and I am bone-tired by the time I finish.
When I read 2 Corinthians 7, I get the idea that Paul was bone-tired physically as well as spiritually: “In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every way: conflicts on the outside, fears inside.”
The remedy for Paul’s affliction was encouragement:
But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more . . . In addition to our comfort, we rejoiced even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you (2 Corinthians 7:6,7,13).
Paul said that both he and Titus were encouraged and refreshed by their interaction with other believers. Does your presence encourage or discourage other people? Solomon said:
- A twinkle in the eye delights the heart. Good news refreshes the body (Proverbs 15:30).
- Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
This could be one of the blessings of the golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you refresh and encourage others, it refreshes and encourages you.
Even though he was in prison, Paul was not imprisoned by his circumstances. In Philippians 4:4, he said: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
As I thought of the remarkable attitude of this wonderful servant of God, I thought of several places in the Psalms where you are encouraged to rejoice:
- In Psalm 9:14 the writer said that salvation is a reason to rejoice: I will rejoice in Your salvation.
- Mercy is the subject of rejoicing in Psalm 31:7: I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy.
- The faithfulness of God is another reason to rejoice. Psalm 33:21: For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.
- The writer of Psalm 119:14 said the promises of God’s
- Word were a source of joy to him: I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
As Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians, he instructs them to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
To embrace the will of God for your life, I encourage you to consider how Paul made a connection between rejoicing and giving thanks. He did it in the verse above as well as Romans 12:12: “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…
How can “rejoicing always” can make a difference in how you you pray and how you give thanks?
When I pulled into a parking spot yesterday, I saw the sign to the left on the door in front of me. I laughed, and then I got out and took a picture of it.
The owner of the store was facing quite a dilemma. His credit card machine was broken, so his customers could not pay for their purchases with Visa or Master Card. Evidently he was not “accepting” cash payments because the sign said he was “only excepting cash.”
I have enough sense to know that the sign reflects some confusion in terminology. Accepting and excepting sound quite a bit alike; however, they are opposites. One means to receive and the other means to exclude.
Let me share an Oscar Wilde quote to show another difference between the two words. Wilde said he had accepted the fact that he could “resist everything except temptation.”
In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul wrote that in Jesus we are “accepted in the Beloved, and in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . .”
When a person is “accepted” in Jesus, he will never be excepted from heaven. This is because Jesus paid the price of your sin. Payment wasn’t made by a credit card or cash, it was paid for by Jesus: “Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:19-20).”
I had one of those nights. I went to bed at my usual time and woke up at the normal hour. Based on the number of hours I was in bed, I should have been able to call it a good night’s sleep.
But, it was one of those nights. I had one crazy dream after another. They were random and senseless, and I awoke feeling like I had not rested.
I did discover a new word. It’s a word I’ve never heard before, and I wonder if there was something in one of those weird dreams that lead me to the word GURFA.
The origin of GURFA is Arabic. It is used in reference to the amount of water that a person can hold in one hand. Other than discussing it here, I doubt I will ever give much consideration to GURFA again.
I’m not too concerned with the amount of water that person can hold in one hand. I am, however, very interested in the one person who can hold, in one hand, all the water you and the rest of the world will ever need.
Jesus is this person, and He said: “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life (John 4:13-14 ~The Message).”
There are times when the burdens of life are incredibly heavy. When I experience these times in my personal life, I’m reminded of Hebrews 12:1-3: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Heartache, sickness, and grief can present circumstances that are difficult to endure. While these hurdles may slow you down to the pace of the turtle, don’t let them sideline you: Finish the race.
To finish the race:
- Consistently engage in “cross” training by walking in step with Jesus.
- Focus on your goal.
- Keep your eyes focused on the next step and not the hurdle three steps in front of you.
When troubles and trials come into your life, do you see just the mountain, or do you also consider the Creator of the mountain? When the storms of life shake you at your core, do you see just the storm or do you also see the rainbow? When you feel trapped and think there is no escape, do you hear the roaring lions or do you feel the presence of Daniel’s angels?
When it comes to endurance, you don’t have to walk alone. Jesus extends an invitation to walk with Him, and He offers to help carry the load: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30 ~The Message).