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by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of June 24, 2018

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  -Philippians 4:8

            In our quest for excellence, consider Titus Chapter 3 for God’s definition . . .

            “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

           The root word of excellence is excel, which means to be superior at something, to rise above. Genesis 49:2 reveals that Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, was one who excelled in honor and power. Clearly, God gifted him. But as we read further, we see Reuben lost his birthright blessing due to sins of arrogance, incest and behaving out of God’s order. Jacob decided to extend what would have been Reuben’s special blessings to Reuben’s younger brothers Judah and Joseph, with Joseph receiving a double portion. Reuben was left an ineffective leader. He lost his profitability, his inheritance, his power and his honor to one who was highly favored by His father.

           Much the same, when we sin, we can lose out on our Heavenly Father’s finest blessings until we repent. And even then, there are consequences. God has an excellent plan to prosper us, which is always superior to ours. The question is, “Whose plan will we follow?” Clearly, so much rides on our free will choice concerning God’s principles.

            Jesus rose above all darkness, even death. He modeled excellence when He walked on earth by following His Father’s plan perfectly, by doing only what the Father had Him do. He is still available to help us as we follow Him forward, enabling us to overcome any obstacle, helping us to “rise above” (I Jn 5:4). 

            Therefore, let us examine our priorities, our goals. Do the desires of our heart honor The Father? Or do they give us sinful pleasure?

            Psalm 44:21 says that God knows the secrets of our hearts. Let's ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us those secrets that do not please Him. Then confess them privately so they will not defeat us publicly. May we ask the Lord to create in us a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit (Ps. 51:10). Surely, these are choices of obedience that will position us for our Heavenly Father’s first and finest blessings.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16
Margaret D. Mitchell

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