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Archive for the ‘Daily Inspiration’ Category

New_Years_Title“… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”  Philippians 3:13-15, ESV

Welcome to the New Year of 2016! Lots of folks start the New Year by making resolutions. Shortcomings are evaluated in an attempted at candid and truthful reflections. You stand on the scale to see your real weight. You don’t lie about the scale not being on level ground or off by 10 pounds. And it’s from these types of self-examinations that new goals are made to improve life.

Statistics say 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of those who do, 25% never make it past the first week. Another 40% dropout by the end of January. After 6 months less than half are committed to their original pledge. By year’s end over 88% of resolutions are cast aside or forgotten. What’s the most popular resolution Americans make: to lose weight. The second is becoming more organized and the third highest resolution is to get out of debt. Maybe it’s figured organization helps to get out of debt.

After reading those statistics, intelligence says there’s a great possibility most New Year’s resolutions will be in the dust by June. That type of failure can devastate a person who senses need for help. Every year confessions are made that lead to the same old failures and disappointments. It’s that easy end up one of the failing eighty-eight ‘percenters.’ For this, Paul gives a few pointers for the New Year: forgetting, pressing and focusing. The first pointer is:

Forgetting

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians 3:13

All ‘self-evaluations’ must be done with a proper perspective. Reflecting on past failures can devastate. People become haunted by ‘what-could-have-been!’ For that matter, successes can be paralyzing, too. Some folks never seem to move beyond their high school/college days. Paul writes in Philippians 3, verse 7:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

Paul is saying there’s a need for living in the present. Past failure or success does not secure a future. But, learning to live in the present means finding God’s grace sufficient moment-by-moment.

Secondly, consider the next pointer of:

Pressing

Starting a little way into verse 13:

“…straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul indicates goals are good! New Year’s resolutions have goals that teach living for the future. If self-examining questions are to be asked, let it be “am I just living in my past or for tomorrow? Make a reasonable goal and press for it. Paul’s goal was for the prize of the upward calling!

Finally, Paul is making the point of:

Focusing

Verse 15 in The Message Bible reads:

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!”

Failure happens when eyes are taken off the goal of the prize. There was a sad story in the news of a man who got out of a cab, was so distracted with reading his cell phone, that he lost focus of where he was and walked straight off a cliff to his death.

Focusing on God’s Word for reasonable goals is the way of living in new life. For example: if a New Year’s resolution has the goal of becoming more organized, look in God’s Word for ways others were organized. Surely, Joseph was organized when planning for seven barren years. Assuredly, David helped organize Solomon in view of building the Temple. Focusing on the goal of ‘everything God has for you’ is found in His Word! Every answer we need is for life is in the Bible!

So, in light of forgetting, pressing and focusing, a good prayer for 2016 would be—God, clear my blurred vision to see goals from You! Happy New Year!

J. Robert Hanson

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“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. (John 5:2-5; ESV)

“…And said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” (John 9:7; ESV)

The miracle pool of Bethesda was situated about as far north in the old city of Jerusalem as one could travel and still remain within the immediate borders. Until the 19th century the exact location of the Bethesda Pool remained elusive. However, in 1888 the archeologist Conrad Schick discovered a large reservoir with two smaller adjoining pools and five porches just outside the northern Temple wall. The find was immediately determined to be the same Pool of Bethesda mentioned in the Gospel of John. The physical appearance fit the biblical description. In 1964 further excavation confirmed the dig indeed was the place of healing for the invalid man in John 5.

In 2005 archeologist discovered another elusive freshwater reservoir, the pool of Siloam. Its location is as far south as one can travel and still be considered within Jerusalem’s borders. It lies just outside the ancient walls of the old city. To get there from the Temple the walker must journey south through the ancient streets of the City of David.

As far apart, north and south, as these two pools were in location within first century old Jerusalem, so too are the miracles of the invalid and the blind men at opposite ends of the spectrum in significance and meaning. The first man gained his infirmity from a life of sin. Jesus noted the other man was born with blindness apart from iniquity. Bethesda’s miracle recipient was received back into his religion while Siloam’s beneficiary was excommunicated. In fact, about the only similarity between the two incidents is that God would receive His due glory from both.

What an excellent picture of the love and grace of God to man! No matter what end of the spectrum of life you may find yourself on, the Savior’s miraculous work is never to far away for His travels. Hey—if the distance from heaven to earth is not too far to journey, surely any expanse He must trek to reach you and I He’ll find well worth the enterprise. Nothing is too great an expanse that He is not willing to bridge by His powerful atoning work. And though you and I may be very different in personality and profile, yet, in both our cases Jesus is able to get the glory of the Father working through our lives. If He were willing to travel the breadth of Jerusalem to help two very different men in need, surely His desire is to spend just a few moments on what is necessary for us.

J. Robert Hanson


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“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” Matthew 25:21

Success is good, failure is bad—or so we generally believe. Defining success and failure is fluid. For Jesus in Matthew 25, success was all about using the talents He distributes. His judgment isn’t so much how much was gained as was the talent used. The same commendation of well done, good and a faithful servant was spoken to the successfully wise that accepted what His judgment would bring for inaction. The undiscerning and fearful buried the talent without using it. His error was inaccurately estimating the master’s judgment.

Society has its ideas of success too! Good is whatever was successful and finding out how that good was achieved becomes the topic of discussion. We read articles of success stories. We attend seminars given by successful people. We want the successful to come teach us what they did to achieve their goals so we might emulate the same. Think about it, how many people who fail are we willing to learn from? How many unsuccessful individuals do we desire seminars of? How many poor people do we want to be our financial counselor? Success is good, failure is bad and we know the difference when we see it! The person making tons of money is successful and that is good so we want them to teach us how they accomplished it. To many in Nazi Germany, the success of Adolph Hitler was good and they blindly followed the man in his maniacal, evil plans. The evil success of Hitler was good to too many.

The point being, society is a terrible barometer for judging success or failure. Wealth, numbers of followers, the applause of men; these are all terrible standards of how to conclude success and determining the good. One of the greatest so-called failures in history was of a man whose life’s work concluded in death and crucifixion. To the natural eye the work of Christ is a colossal waste of time if there is no resurrection from the dead. All the good words He spoke and followers He attracted resolved to utter failure as all forsook Him in the end. Even at the end of His own life He asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Did Jesus believe His life’s work was a failure? Hardly! It’s only as we use society’s standard of success and failure that we falsely determine His life’s work was not good but bad. What did Jesus do to get to the point of seeing His end would not be a failure? He prayed to His Father, “Not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus accepted the judgment of the Father. It was enough for Him to know the Father’s will and to do it. Success was not determined by how many followed Him, how much wealth He accumulated, or even by the greatness of His notoriety. Success was doing the Father’s will as the poor, despised, rejected, afflicted and forsaken—all signs of failure and the bad of this world.

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ is a conclusion of success. The judgment was not decided out of wealth contributed or ability, it was determined because the servants accepted the judgment of their master and acted accordingly to his will—just use the talents. If anything I learn, I learn to ask, what is your will Lord and resolve to accept His judgment on all I do. I may end up rich, poor; popular, despised; accepted of many or rejected; received or forsaken—whatever the success or failure, I accept the judgment from His hands—that is my option.

J. Robert Hanson


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