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Spiritual Growth

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: HOW GREAT THOU ART

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HOW GREAT THOU A.R.T.

Modern art.  Fine art.  Clip art.  Jesus Christ…How great thou ART! Today, let’s remember three key attributes of our Lord and Savior through the acronym ART, extracted from Hebrews 1…

Jesus Christ – Appointed heir of all things, and who made the universe (v2).  No evolutionary process here.  Jesus created the world.  End of discussion!

Jesus Christ – Radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word (v3).  Jesus is God; the very One who spoke in Old Testament times.  His Deity is not in question.  As the Lord Himself revealed, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9).  Unbelievable claim.  Undeniable truth!

Jesus Christ – Total forgiveness.  He provides purification for sins (v3).  The very power that brought the universe into existence; the power that keeps the world spinning is the very same power that removes our sins.  Acts 4:12 tells us that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  To Him be the glory!

We serve a great God – Jesus Christ: Creator, sustainer, forgiver.  So…Need a fresh stART or a change of heART?  Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  You can rely on Him for…(wait for it)…His love will NEVER depART!

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ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: HALT

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HALT

“I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:74).  “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” (Luke 22:60).  “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.  Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’  And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62).

After all that Jesus had done for Peter.  After receiving instructions on daily living and teachings on the eternal Kingdom to come, this third episode of “looking out for number one” leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief.  What a wretched, cowardly, dishonorable thing to do Peter.  You’re worthless, weak, unusable, unstable.  How dare you call yourself a follower of Christ?  What a pitiful excuse of a man you are!

Peter had fallen, and he’d fallen hard.  This brash, impulsive fisherman who, along with his brother Andrew, “at once left his nets to follow Christ (Mark 1:17), was the same Peter who recognized his sinfulness before a perfect God (Luke 5:8) and who was led up a high mountain with James and John to witness firsthand the power, glory and identity of Jesus as the Son of God during His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13).  Now, as Jesus awaits His execution, Peter is intimidated by accusations that he actually knew Jesus; that he hung out with him; maybe even called him his friend.  He’s broken by his denial.  Crushed.  Bitter tears of regret and disloyalty are mixed with sobs of guilt as he realizes the depths to which he’s sunk.

Now, before we get too hung up on Peter’s shortcomings, let’s remember our own.  How many times have we fit the profile of Peter?  Full of bravado one minute for our Savior, and in the next, denying him with our words, our thoughts and our actions.  It’s easy to point a finger at Peter, but what would we have done had we walked in his shoes that night?  Can we honestly say we’d have acted any differently?  Would we really risk our life for a man who promised much, delivered much, but who now stood on the brink of death?  Our heads would be spinning.  Sure, we’d like to think we’d be courageous.  But with a gun pointed at our head, self preservation would no doubt kick in; our survival taking top priority.  I’m sure too we’d work hard to justify “walking away”, perhaps leaning on the crutch of being able to fight/share Christ another day.  “What use would I be to a lost, dying world if my own life was taken today?”  Most of us are more like Peter than we care to admit.  We fail.  We falter.  We struggle, and yes, we even deny the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is there hope?  Are there any truths we can hang onto from God’s Word?  Did Peter’s cowardly denial condemn him to a life of insignificance, and did the One whose eyes pierced his own during that night in the courtyard now turn away in disgust and disappointment?  The answer is a resounding NO!  Jesus loved Peter, warts and all.  Indeed, His forgiveness caused Peter to HALT Have A Life Transformed!  His denial is difficult to swallow, but God still had great plans for Peter’s life:  he became the recognized leader among Jesus’ disciples (one of the inner circle of three); he was the first great voice of the gospel during and after Pentecost (Acts 2-12); he performed miracles (Acts 3:1-10); he made a confession of Christ’s deity which became the foundation of the church (Matthew 16:15-19); he opened the door of salvation to the Jews; and he wrote the two New testament books which bore his name.  I guess you could say that God still used Peter, in spite of his shameful denial!

Peter gives us a reason to “keep going”.  His life reminds us of God’s love and grace, and serves as an example of one whose personality and character remained a “work in progress” throughout his ministry.  Philippians 1:6 brings comfort that, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Through Peter’s experience, we learn that God can and will use anyone who weeps over their sin and who humbly accepts that the ONLY way to salvation is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Scripture tells us in Acts 4:12 that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  The writer of this profound truth?  Peter, of course, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!

So this week, let’s thank God that He gives us second (and third, and fourth…) chances.  When we mess up (sin), let’s ‘fess up, knowing that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Let’s press on in our faith, run the race marked out for us with perseverance and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Have you fallen short like Peter?  Get up and start again.  HALT… Have A Life Transformed.  After all, it is better to be a follower who fails, than one who fails to follow.

 

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: GOT BO?

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GOT B.O?

I struggle with B.O.  There.  I’ve said it.  It’s out in the open.  I don’t like it, and I wish it wasn’t a part of who I am.  Chances are, you also struggle with the same problem.  Or perhaps you’ve had an issue with it in the past but have learned to overcome this often socially crippling disease.

Strange thing is, when I open the Scriptures, I read about men and women of faith who also had the same problem, while others had clearly defeated this dark enemy.  Moses, at times had B.O. issues, as did Abraham, Jonah, Jeremiah, Peter and other followers of Jesus.  Infact, the whole nation of Israel was often guilty of struggling with B.O.  In contrast, Rahab, Stephen, Paul and many of the names mentioned in Hebrews 11’s “Hall of Faith” seemed to have no problem at all with B.O.

Now before you get the idea that I’ve finally lost it, remember this: we are in the world of acronyms.  So when I speak of B.O., I am not referring to the unfortunate “affliction” of one’s sour bodily aroma.  After all, how could I possibly label Moses, the mighty man of God, as a “B.O. struggler” and Paul as a “B.O. overcomer?”  Clearly, an acronym is the answer.  And the answer is…Boldness & Obedience.  Some struggled with B.O.; others rose above it.  If you look at/study the list of Bible characters again in this new “acronymic” light, perhaps you’ll appreciate this concept of Boldness & Obedience more fully.  But for now, let’s make it personal.  After all, it’s probably the two areas of life in which we’d all like to do better…

Boldness – Described in the dictionary as “Fearless and daring; courageous”.  As Christians, we should strive to be as courageous as Stephen before his accusers (Acts 6:8-7:60).  The courage to “tell it as it is” and the strength to bare no grudges; to have a forgiving spirit, just like Stephen, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).  If only we could consistently muster the same bravery of David against the giant which stood in his way, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45).  And wouldn’t it be a huge testament to God living in us if we were able to respond to His marvelous grace by saying “’No”’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

Sadly, we’re often held back by that great adversary – FEAR.  Fear of failure.  Fear of “not performing” well enough.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of stepping outside our comfort zone.  Fear of rejection or ridicule.  If only we would listen to Scripture instead of being preoccupied with our own perceived inadequacies.  Perhaps then, life would be different.  We’d be encouraged by 2 Timothy 1:7; a reminder that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.”  We’d march forward, with God’s words to Joshua ringing in our ears, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).  And we’d press on, with Jesus’ words pulsating through our veins as they no doubt did when He spoke with His disciples the night before His crucifixion, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

And then there’s obedience – Defined as “Dutifully complying with the commands, orders, or instructions of one in authority.”  Oh, to hear and heed the Word of God; to read about our “Great Authority’s” will for our life through the pages of Scripture, and to be so prompted by the indwelling Holy Spirit – that our only (and immediate) response is “Yes Sir!”  No arguing.  No questions asked.  No delay.  Simple obedience.  When God says “do it” we do it.  When He says “don’t do it” we don’t even entertain the idea of going against His command.

While the Apostle Paul was far from perfect, his relationship with Jesus Christ was so deep – so personal – that he was able to say to the Philippian believers, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9).  We should desire and strive to be so transformed that we can say with all confidence – “do what I do; say what I say; think what I think.”

Alas, many of us dare not make such a boast as we remain a work in progress.  Nonetheless, let’s be grateful and humbled that “He who began a good work in you (us) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).  And with this, commit ourselves to obeying God whatever, wherever and whenever He asks.

I’m not there yet (and I suspect, neither are you).  I still struggle with B.O., but as I read, study, pray, serve, and try to love others and love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) there is hope, even a confidence, that my goal of becoming more and more like Christ will be realized.

So this week, let’s struggle no longer with B.O.  Let’s be sold out for Jesus.  No fear.  No compromise.  No backing away when opportunities arise to share our faith.  And let’s take seriously Jesus’ warning in Matthew 10:33 that, “Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven”.

Now that’s enough to give anyone B.O!

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: FIRST SERVE

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FIRST SERVE

The opening four words of the book of Titus tell us much about Paul – How he saw himself and the role he sought to play.  “Paul, a servant of God.”  Let’s make sure we catch that.  A servant not a dictator; one who lived for others and not for self.  Servant.  A leader in the truest sense of the word.  This greatest of all missionaries served, and he served well.  Since meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road, Paul had devoted his life to Christ and by consequence, to lost sinners.  His was a life of obedience – a life of no compromise.  He was sold out for Jesus, on fire for his Lord and what an adventure and impact he had!  Today, let the acronym SERVE remind us of Paul’s faithful life in ministry:

Paul Stood firm in the faith – He never shirked a challenge or missed an opportunity.  He never bowed down to public opinion or allowed majority vote to rule.  Indeed, as he writes in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul was authentic – A “God pleaser” – Through and through.

Paul Equipped others – He guided them both by his example and by teaching the truth.  Paul knew firsthand the liberating effect of God’s forgiveness, knowing that Christ, and Christ alone, could transform a life, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
Paul served by raising up others in the faith.

Paul Rebuked false teachers – He called them rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers (Titus 1:10).  He castigated them further by labeling them liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12).
Paul never minced words to pacify his audience.

Paul Valued others in ministry – He didn’t laud it over his ministry partners.  He recognized their importance and made a point of giving thanks for their contribution.  He spoke warmly to Timothy with the instruction to, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).  Paul was grateful for the support and encouragement of fellow believers.

Paul looked at life from an Eternal perspective – He knew where he was going.  In fact, he longed for that day when he would meet Jesus face to face.  He lived his days with purpose and passion, “considering everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).  His beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, imprisonments – all of the suffering he endured could not dent his witness for Christ.  His words to the Philippians affirm his supreme confidence…“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).  Like the great Hymn writer of old Horatio Spafford, he could boldly say that no matter what, “It is well with my soul”.  Paul knew his calling, lived life to the full and eagerly anticipated heaven as his reward.

Today, if we forget the emphasis placed on each letter of the acronym, let’s at least remember the word itself.  May we SERVE both God and others selflessly?  May we go the extra mile and not count the cost, and may we lead and love others just like Paul…Just like Jesus!

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: EASY-P-EEZY

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EASY – P – EEZY

Today’s acronym to live by (ATLB) is easy to remember as it revolves around one letter:  the letter “P”…

  • Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers (P6)? NO!
  • Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (P5)? NO!
  • Preach – Prepare – Patience – People (P4)? Yes!

As Paul wrote the final chapter of his life in 2 Timothy 4, he reminded his young son in the faith of what was really important in life.  Imagine Paul, pen in hand, looking back and also gazing into the future to urge and encourage not only Timothy, but believers both then and now.  What would he say?  What could be so pressing to be on his mind during his final days on this earth?  From all his ministry and mission experiences, his pains, persecutions, struggles, highs and lows, what would be his written legacy.  Let’s find out…

Preach the Word – What could be more important that sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ?  Scripture tells us that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).  Never forget the soothing, comforting, often  admonishing and convicting impact of God’s Word to the saved as well as to the lost.  As Paul reminds us in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Prepare – In season and out of season.  Be ready at all times to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord “because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  Don’t be caught off guard by either not knowing the Scriptures, or by failing to share the message of salvation.

Patience – Correct, rebuke and encourage.  Look around.  There is always someone who needs careful instruction.  But be sensitive too.  We have all gone astray at some point and we all need accountability.  Yet we must remember and apply Paul’s commentary on love from 1 Corinthians 13…”Love is patient.” (v.4). Get it?  Don’t be too hasty in meting out criticism.  Be patient with others as God is patient with you!  “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15)

People – Scripture is about people.  Not programs or politics, but people.  It records the good, the bad and the ugly side of mankind whose names and lives we’ve gotten to know through the inspired Word of God.  And through it all, we get a glimpse into our Savior’s heart, whose greatest longing is that no one would perish but that everyone would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  Paul’s heart clearly beats in tandem with his Lords, for people remained his chief concern.  “Forget my chains.  Dismiss my discomfort.  Let me tell you about Demas, Crescens, Titus, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, Carpus, Alexander, Priscilla and Aquila, Onesiphorus, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia.”  Perhaps he ran out of ink or more likely, he just ran out of time.  For surely there were others on his mind he would like to talk about.  But his race had been run and he’d run it well.  With all confidence, Paul could say, “I have fought the good fight,  I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Today, let’s remember the important things in life: Preaching – Preparing – Patience – People.  Don’t allow Paul’s final words to fall on deaf ears.  It’s EASY – P – EEZY to do unless we remember P4 as our (ATLB) Acronym To Live By!

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: E-SAFE

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E-SAFE

First there was E-mail. Then came a whole bunch of other E’s: E-Harmony, E-Trade, E-Bay, E-Schedules, E-Books, E-Cards, E-Magazines and even E-Cigarettes! We’re surrounded by E’s! Even our world of acronyms has been hit…

E-SAFE is a reminder to the Christian to Endure life’s trials like a Soldier, an Athlete and a Farmer, confident that Eternity will be our reward.

  • Endure – Life is tough, sometimes downright ugly, but we are to be “Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1)
  • Soldiers of Jesus Christ give up worldly security and endure rigorous discipline in order to “please their commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:4)
  • Athletes train hard and follow the rules to “receive the victor’s crown” (2 Timothy 2:5)
  • Farmers work hard and remain patient “to be the first to receive a share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:7
  • Eternity awaits. Rejoice! The struggles of this life will be defeated as we “fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: DUST IN TIME

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DUST IN TIME

Dust is everywhere and gets everywhere. It is the hidden ally of critters and mites, and no matter how much we try to get rid of it, dust always reappears on the scene! Today, let’s get our own back on dust. Let’s use the word as an acronym of faith rather than the enemy of our homes. Allow dust to permeate your mind throughout the day, giving you a reminder of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians (chapter 2). Who knows, it mite just make a difference!
Don’t be alarmed – Jesus has not yet returned!
Urgency – Now is the time to rescue the perishing
Stand firm in the faith – Hold on to the Gospel truths
Trust Jesus – He will overthrow the deceiver with the breath of his mouth and he will destroy him by the splendor of His coming
Have a good, Godly and DUSTY day!!

ACRONYMS TO LIVE BY: BAN WARNING

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INTRODUCTION

The older I get, the more I forget! Sound familiar? If so, I want to help you remember a few simple truths by way of an acronym. Maybe it will help you get through the day, or perhaps it will be a reminder of God’s goodness and grace. At the very least, it will give you a tool to digest the Word of God in bite size chunks. So over the the next few blogs, open your mind and heart to the world of acronyms and be encouraged to recall them throughout your day…If you remember!

B.A.N. WARNING

To ban is to prohibit, forbid or bar; to tolerate no longer. In our world of acronyms, ban is a clarion call to Christians to Be Ashamed Not! We may be ashamed of our past and even embarrassed by our present, but we should NEVER be ashamed of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Never ashamed to tell others about the lover of our soul; never ashamed to say, like Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12)
Paul…Was not ashamed to suffer for Christ. Onesiphorus…was not ashamed of Paul or his chains while awaiting execution. Timothy…was encouraged not to be ashamed to testify about the Lord, for “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self-disciple” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Today, let’s put away any fears of sharing our faith. Instead, let’s live out the acronym to BAshamed Not. Indeed, let’s be a sold out Christian and rejoice as we banish any thoughts of not being on fire for Jesus!