More Than Adequate

When Paul was writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, he mentioned his “thorn in the flesh.” Paul said, Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Here are four reasons that God’s grace is just as sufficient for us as it was for Paul:

  1. God is omniscient—He knows everything that can be known; therefore, He knows everything there is to know about you and your needs.
    • Psalm 139:1-3: O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
  2. God is beneficent—He is generous in His love for His children.
    • Psalm 145:15-19: The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
  3. God makes you proficient—He provides the strength I need.
    • Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  4. God will never leave you deficient—God nurtures those He loves.
    • Isaiah 40:31: But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

As you think about the sufficiency of God’s grace, I encourage you to also give some thought to these words of the Apostle Peter: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature . .2 Peter 1:2-21

Sensing the Scent of Beauty

beauty seenSome clichés are falsehoods and aren’t worth the price of a vowel on Wheel of Fortune; however, timeless classics like, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder have been cherished for generations.

To be honest, I lack more than just a little sophistication when it comes to appreciating the elegance and splendor of beauty, but even I can appreciate:

Beauty should not be thought of as just a sensory perception of the eye. It can also be a pleasant fragrance that fires the sensory neurons in your schnozzle. 

People like me can identify a canvas that hosts the bright strokes of a Picasso,  but we are more apt to be awed by the sight of a scrumptious slice of apple pie fused with the tantalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  While some of us will never fully appreciate the world of art, there are others who will never savor the delicious bouquet of culinary delights nor the sweet perfume of a rose.

It’s estimated that 2 million people actually stink at smelling. Dysfunctional smellers are found more often among men than women: In one study, nearly 25% of men and 11% of women, ages 60–69, had a smell disorder. This diagnosis falls into four classifications:

  • Anosmia is the complete inability to detect odors.
  • Hyposmia is the diminished ability to detect odors.
  • Parosmia is a change in a person’s ability to distinguish odors.
  • Phantosmia is the bogus illusion of the nose; it is a perceptual false-positive of an odor that isn’t present.

The nasal tone of this post would not be complete, if I failed to mention two smells that are especially pleasing to God:

  • The aroma of your prayers that evoke the smell of golden bowls full of incense in (Revelation 5:8).
  • The aroma of your love that Paul speaks of in the book of Ephesians.

May today be a day to contemplate the beauty that surrounds you, to reflect on the beauty of the Lord our God that is upon you (Psalm 90:17), and to take the words of Thoreau to heart: Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.

Maybe or Maybe Not

lender-decisionsShould I stay or should I go?  Should my answer be yes or no? Some decisions are easy to make, but there are times when choices leave us baffled and befuddled.

The solutions to some problems are quickly discovered and come as easily and flipping on a light switch.  Frequently though, life can be a perplexing journey filled with head-banging frustration as you seek an elusive answer:

  • Where should I live?
  • Which doctor should I use and which treatment should I try?
  • Should I keep the job I have or should I seek employment elsewhere?
  • Is this the person I should marry?
  • Which college should I choose to pursue my education?

Psalms 25:12:12 offers the assurance that, The Lord shows his faithful followers the way they should live. And, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

The question remains: How can you know that you’re making the right decision? Let me suggest a few questions that might help you focus your thoughts:

  • Am I violating any biblical principles?
  • Will my actions be an embarrassment to my parents or grandparents?
  • Is it legal, moral, and ethical?
  • Who will it help and who will it hinder?
  • What is the financial, emotional, and spiritual cost to me and my family?
  • Will my decision lead me to do what’s good, better or best?
  • Have I prayed about my situation?

When you confuse your wants and desires with your needs, making the right choice can be difficult. Your discernment can be hindered due to either wanting too much of the wrong thing or desiring too little of the right thing—both can be obstacles when you pray for guidance:

George Muller, a champion of orphans and an evangelist, once said: Nine-tenths of difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.

Here are four steps to consider as you chose your path in life:

  • Yield to God, and be willing to will the will of God for life (Joshua 24:14-15).
  • Spend some time in prayer and meditating on God’s word (Joshua 1:8).
  • Seek the counsel of the wise (Proverbs 19:20).
  • Don’t rush your decision; take the time to think it through (Proverbs 21:5).

In times of indecision, I’ve found comfort in Jeremiah 29:11; and I think you might as well: I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11

Martyrs Among Us

the_entombment_of_st_stephen_martyr_XX_museo_del_prado_madridWhen I read the news from France early this morning, I was reminded of the words of Jesus: “a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God (John 16:2).”

The truth of Jesus’ words is crystal clear in the spiritual climate in which we live.  The twisted theology of radicalized terrorists compels them to murder in the name of their god. While it’s true that there’s just a minority of the population who engages in these inhumane and atrocious attacks, the partisan silence of their fellow acolytes is deafening.

This morning, two men armed with blades entered a church in northern France and held several people as hostages. French media is reporting that the attackers cut the throat of the priest.

Please pray for the citizens of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and the grieving people of this church.

Grumpy or Gracious?

grumpyWhenever I read the opening verses of Psalm 92, the number 1,440 flashes through my mind.  1,440 is the number of minutes in a day, and Psalm 92 is a positive motivator on how to manage these precious moments:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and sing praises to Your name, O Most High. It is good to tell of Your loving-kindness in the morning, and of how faithful You are at night, with harps, and with music of praise.  For You have made me glad by what You have done, O Lord. I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands (Psalm 92:1-4).

Think about the words you spoke yesterday; was your vocabulary more grumpy than it was gracious?  How would your life be different if you would spend more time counting your blessings than tallying your slights?  Would you be happier and healthier?

Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, has examined the power of positive and negative thoughts. She has found that positive emotions enhance your sense of personal potential; opens your mind to new possibilities; and, they allow you to develop new skills and resources that add value to your life.

Fredrickson’s premise is a conformation of a principle from the Proverbs: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24

Over the next week, I encourage you to use some of the 1,440 minutes of each day to put Psalm 92 to practice:

  • Focus on the blessing of God, and give thanks.
  • Whistle a tune, hum a favorite hymn, and sing a song of praise to God.
  • When you get up in the morning, start with a God is Able thought, and end your day by rehearsing the history of God’s faithfulness.
  • Begin and end each day with the following prayer:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14

The Brotherhood of the Big-Footed

feetSince I belong to the brotherhood of the big-footed, I need a lot of help to keep my feet pointed in the right direction. This is one reason I have a special fondness for Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

When God’s Word is your guide, and you use it as a lamp for your feet, you’re less likely to stumble and fall.  It’s an ever-ready guide to help you:

  • Gain strength and to grow in love—Ephesians 3:16-20
  • Resist evil—Galatians 5:16-21
  • Increase in knowledge and to be filled with the fruit of righteousness—Philippians 1:9-11
  • Grow in your faith—2 Peter 1:5-8

To burn brightly the old fashioned lamps needed either oil or burning embers of coal.  The oil that fires-up the lamp of God’s Word is prayer.  To find the light and guidance you need, I suggest that you make Psalm 119:33-36 your prayer for today:

Help me understand Your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
 Help me stay on the path of Your commands,
for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees
and not to material gain.

Sensible Scents

Life-in-ScentsWhile I was reading in the Gospel of Luke, I began to think about the plight of the widow and the sacrificial giving of her mite. It occurred to me that worship can be expressed in cents as well as scents.  Like the widow, it’s possible to be nearly centless and still worship God.

There is another side to worship in which it is never scentless. When you approach God is the right way, your worship is the aroma of sweet-smelling incense that floats into His presence; and, it’s much like the scene in Revelation 5:8:

The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of fragrant incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

When your life mirrors the life of Jesus, you love as Christ loved, and your life becomes an offering and a sacrifice to God just like a sweet-smelling aroma:

Be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and has given Himself for us, as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:1-3).

Based on the chart below, people are willing to spend their money to control their bodily odors. Shouldn’t we invest the same amount in time and effort to make sure we are as pleasing to God as we are to the rest of the world?

Company

Profit

Proctor and Gamble $999 million
Unilever $682.3 million
Lever Brothers $329.5 million
Dial Corporation $152 million
Colgate Palmolive $146.6 million
Revlon $79.7 million

Before you turn your nose up to my earlier question, consider it in the light of this verse:

Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place.  For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved        ~2 Corinthians 2:14

How sweet is your aroma?

 

Eudemonics: You Da’ Man!

You_Da_Man_Recordable_Greeting_Card_By_Urban_Chakkar_729834You da’ man!  You’ve probably heard this exclamation after someone has done something great or unusual. The only reason I even mention You da man, is to help you with the pronunciation of Eudemonic (yoo-di-mon-ik).

A lot of what I do focuses on the end results of Eudemonics which is behavior that produces happiness and a sense of well-being.  This type of happiness is not associated with the circumstances of the world, but it has more to do with the concept of joy and your relationship with the Lord.

With this in mind, it’s easy to identify a few of the Eudemonic Principles in the Bible.  There is the:

  • Joy of Knowing God:  But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You (Psalm 5:11)
  • Joy of Forgiveness:  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalm 32:1)
  • Joy of Mercy: Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 106:1)
  • Joy of Restoration:  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:12)

I encourage you to give some thought to your relationship with God, and to take the time to mediate on the joy-filled message of Psalm 62:

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.  All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.”

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

A Special Day Everyday

BirthdayplateWhen I was a kid, Mom made birthdays special by allowing her children to pick the menu for supper.  A few days in advance, she would ask: “What do you want me to cook for your birthday?”

I knew if I asked for Mom’s special chocolate cake, I would receive it for dessert. Asking with the hope of receiving is part of life’s journey, and it’s one of  the themes of the Bible:

  • Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7)
  • If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).
  • Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).

A wonderful promise found in Psalm 55:16 encourages you to call out to God: As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. This verse is evidence of God’s desire to have a relationship with you.  When you call to Him:

  • You can enjoy the blessings of an abundant life (John 10:10).
  • God will help you face your fear and give you the strength you need for your journey (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • You can be assured that God will be a place of refuge for you (Psalm 46:1).

Why limit yourself to just one special day out of the year, when everyday can be a special day with God?

A Capital Problem in the Capitol

United-States-Capitol-Building-in-Washington-DCWhen a business begins to run low on capital, the wealth of the company is diminished, and it can eventually lead to bankruptcy.  A current example is the present tailspin being experienced by Valeant Pharmaceuticals.  The price of the stock has ranged from a 52 week high of $263.81 to a closing price of $69.04 on Monday.  Tuesday it lost another 50% and closed at $33.51 a share.

While this capital loss is a concern to the company, its employees, and the investors, it’s been a real punch in the gut to Bill Ackman.  Due to Valeant’s nosedive his hedge fund lost $1 Billion in a single day.

Bankruptcy is not limited to being just a capital problem.  It can also be a Capitol dilemma.  The legislative branch of our government is over its head in debt and at least knee deep in a bankruptcy of morals.

The solution is not Hillary, nor is it Bernie.  The answer is not going to be found in Donald, Ted, Marco, or John.  I think the remedy to our woes is a fresh resolve to embrace godly principles.

Call me “old fashioned,” but I still believe the Bible, and what the Psalms and Chronicles say concerning the blessings of God on a nation:

  • Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Politics has never solved the capital problem in the Capitol, maybe we should give repentance and prayer a chance.