His Strength or Yours?

July 22nd, 2016

A humble heart receives a fresh release of His Spirit daily.

“Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “His strength or yours?”

I have seen the picturesque, Dutch windmills in Holland that harnessed the wind’s power as early as the 14th century, and Texas windmills drawing water from wells on ranches far from the reach of electrical service, and the modern, towering wind turbines capturing the energy of prevailing winds converted to kinetic energy. What pictures of the power of the Holy Spirit breathing into and through a Christ-follower’s life.

Are you trying to live everyday life in your own strength – to be what you should be by your resolve and determination, failing to understand life’s complexities and uncertainties by your limited knowledge and experiences, struggling to do all the things you should by your natural strength and ability?

Is that working for you? Not too well I would imagine. Here’s some good news about all of that. You were never intended to live within those confining, self-imposed limits. Your best efforts fall short of success, due to inadequate resource, deficient knowledge, and lack of life-experience.

God has provided the power you need to live joyfully and victoriously. Anything less than that leaves you drinking from an empty cup. You don’t need a little bit of God’s help; all God offers you will be required. You need to pray as Paul prayed, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen (me) with power through His Spirit in (my) inner being, so that Christ may dwell in (my) heart through faith . . that (I) may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18 NIV.

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is not optional; it is commanded. “Be filled with the Spirit!” Ephesians 5:18 NIV. And know this, God’s power cannot be stored up. Today’s strength will not stretch to cover tomorrow’s demands. The life of power you desire requires your bringing to God a sincere and humble heart to receive a fresh, daily release of His Spirit. The literal translation of today’s verse would more clearly be stated this way, “Be (being) filled with the Spirit,” denoting a progressive and continuous filling in the measure each day demands and your faith requires. Inner power is, “a work in progress,” every day.

The word the Holy Spirit chose to describe this daily empowering is a picture of a sail boat with its sails intentionally set to harness the energy of the wind, and then moving responsively and powerfully under its sheer power alone. It describes the kinetic effect of a life responding to the wind of the Spirit, rather than the passive filling of some measure or volume. See Acts 1:8 NIV/John 7:37-39 NKJV.

And what will be the visible and practical impact of being filled with the Spirit? Your life will evidence the character of Christ. “When the Holy Spirit controls your life, He will produce this kind of fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . if you are living now by the Spirit, follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of your life.” Galatians 5:22-23/25 NLT. The secret is simply allowing the Spirit’s control and following His leading obediently, every day and in every part of your life.

Today, I pray for you to breathe deeply of the invigorating Spirit of God.

Christian Communications 2016

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An update for your continued prayer . . . Thank you for your concern, caring communications, and prayer. I am being treated for an inflamed nerve in my lower back that is aggravated by sitting for any length of time. That has impacted my ability to write EDL as consistently I would wish. My commitment to this ministry has not diminished. Our times together in God’s Word remain my joy. Thank you for your patience and continued love and prayers. Blessings, Allen Randolph.

Good Success

July 18th, 2016

Let the best of your past be the boost for your future.

“David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “good success.”

David and Goliath are a favorite story of mine. David achieved monumental success against all odds. Everyone likes a story where the good guy wins. Wouldn’t it be great if you could know and copy David’s secret? Success is not that simple. There is rarely just one solution. Almost as a footnote the Bible records, “David chose five smooth stones from the stream.” 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV. Ever curious about why David selected five stones? Without God, five ordinary stones are not all that more confidence building than one. The Bible does not answer that question, which allows us to consider why he might have done so.

If you are serious about succeeding, I suggest you will be open to more than one way to achieve your goal. You need the kind of attitude that boldly says, “Whatever it takes!” Maybe David chose five stones because he didn’t know which one God would direct to its mark; he was just sure that God would make the most of his every effort. You can be sure of that as well. I suggest “five stones” as practical contributors to meaningful accomplishments.

  1. Learn from your failure; build on your success. Do not dwell on failures nor forget successes. Understanding those avoids further mistakes and celebrates victories as confidence boosters. People usually do just the opposite, recalling every painful, trivial detail of failure while discounting triumphs God helped them achieve.
  2. Let the best of your past be the boost for your future. David remembered well. “God who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37. Be careful; your focus determines your direction and expectation; make sure that moves you upward and onward. Paul practiced this: “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT.
  3. Concern yourself more with God’s honor than your reputation. Like everything else in life, success is not about you and your enrichment or acclaim; your success brings glory to God’s Name and reveals His nature to bless Godly efforts. “I come to you in the Name of the Lord Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. . the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. And everyone will know the Lord does not need weapons to rescue His people. It is His battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!” 1 Samuel 17:45-47. It’s not about you; it’s all about Him and His victory and glory.
  4. Success does not come to spectators. David was willing to join the battle. He was impassioned, “Who is this that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . Is there not a cause?” 1 Samuel 17:26/29. He became personally involved. Success does not come while you watch; success comes when you work.
  5. Never give up short of a Godly goal. I read this statement, “Success is 10% ability and good fortune, and 90% perseverance.” Someone else observed, “The harder I work the more fortunate I become.” Every success is built on a history of effort and perseverance. “In everything [David] did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14 NIV. Success awaits you.

Today, I pray that you experience the satisfaction of good effort amid the joy of success.

EDLdavid_and_goliath 7-18-16

Christian Communications 2016

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Holy Fear and Reverence

July 7th, 2016

The fear of the Lord is recognizing that you are not God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “holy fear and reverence.”

There are times, things, situations, and people that warrant caution. Healthy fears can be lifesaving; most fears are unhealthy for you. Unhealthy fears are neurotic, destroying peace and stifling joy. Neurotic fear can be debilitating. Fear magnifies your imagination and distorts your perceived reality. Fear misdirects expectations to the lowest possible projection. A baby is born with only two fears: the fear of falling and loud noises. Others are learned along the way, unfortunately. Addressing and overcoming fear in constructive ways are important for emotional and physical well-being.

The Bible has much wisdom to differentiate fears which are either hurtful or helpful. Solomon, whose greatest desire was wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:7-11 NKJV), learned where all wisdom begins. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by [wisdom] your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.” Proverbs 9:10-11 NKJV. The Bible has much to say about “the fear of the Lord.” People wrongly equate it with other fears, which at their base have an inner concern of personal danger or harm. See Proverbs 29:25 NIV. The fear of the Lord is nothing like natural fears, except when misunderstood.

Adam and Eve hid themselves from God then explained to Him, “We heard your voice and were afraid.” Genesis 3:10 NKJV. Their fear was a lack in their own character, not from a lack in God’s character. Gods’ response? He provided covering for their shame and promised them a Savior. How do you not love a God like that?

I think many have a distorted an understanding of Godly fear. Incorrectly, a person who neither understands God’s holy nature and righteous character, nor is committed to the unvarying truth of Scripture’s revelation of God, may live under a false fear of what God may do to them. What you are capable of doing to God should be your fear – ignoring Him, disobeying Him, disbelieving Him, disappointing Him, or misrepresenting Him to others. You are more likely to “hurt God” by how you treat Him than He would ever harm you.

I came upon a quote deserving reflection, “The fear of the Lord is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.” To that, I would add, “. . and a holy recognition that He is.” Unhealthy fears are often the product of one’s ignorance of God’s existence or stubborn disbelieve in His caring and character. It helps if you understand what the Bible calls fear, as it relates to one’s relationship with God, is “the attitude of respect and reverential awe,” a sublimely positive affection rather than a negative emotion. The practical elements of the fear of the Lord and reverence are: a clear understanding of God’s nature, a pure obedience to God’s Word, and a clean heart in God’s presence.

I love the Bible’s description that “the believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:31 NLT. The Spirit’s comfort seems proportional, if not dependent, upon your devotion to walking in the fear of the Lord. I desire to be one who values the righteous fear of the Lord because I do not want to ever be apart from the Spirit’s comfort. I trust that you examine and determine that you desire the same.

Today, I pray for you to prize a holy reverence for God and His wisdom.

EDL Prov 9.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016

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About God and Governments

July 1st, 2016

Above pride of nation, be a servant and soldier of the Lord Jesus.

“Are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?“ 2 Chronicles 20:6 NAS.

My thoughts and comments today are “about God and governments.”

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday and heritage, it seems an appropriate time to consider present world realities. You cannot listen to the news even a little without wondering and worrying about the things happening around the globe.

And what is happening? Global politics, accusations and threats from world leaders, heads of governments strutting across the world stage with boast and bravado, bitter political and religious differences, growing terrorism and brutal violence, ideological alliances and fearful attempts to balance military powers, international rivalries and jealousies, lust for power with the threat of nuclear and biological weapons, apparent impotence of most treaties, truces, and international sanctions, as well as angry, military hostilities in too many diverse locations – all combine to create concern for today and uncertainty for the days ahead. Can governments provide the remedy?

Conflicting voices and partisan opinions tell you the solution to all of this is your vote for their candidate or political party, each one promising you greater security and prosperity for yourself and family. Isn’t that what every citizen wants, whatever their nationality, language, religion, economy, or governmental system? But has that ever worked yet?

Where is God in all of this? Here’s what the Bible says. “He made from one man every nation . . having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” Acts 17:26. Ultimately political summits do not shape the geography of countries. Nor do political leaders alone determine the future of nations. God does. Your informed vote in the political process is important; your faith in God and fervent prayer is yet more consequential and powerful – more far reaching to influence the fate of nations. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV. See 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV.

God caused Israel’s oppressors to fund their exodus from captivity with Moses. Exodus 3:21. Generations later, God opened the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to return Israel’s captives to Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1.  In more recent history, was it the world’s nations that carved out territory and national boundaries for Israel in 1948, again returning the Jewish people to their homeland? Or was that the hand of God, and His promise to Israel from centuries before? Job confidently declared, “God makes nations great, and He destroys them; He enlarges nations, and disperses them.” Job 12:23-25 NIV.

Here is the sum of this matter of security and prosperity in this day and world. “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8. God promised every generation, “For unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder . . of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . the passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9:6-7. Is it God, or governments? I will go with God. See Philippians 3:20.

My prayer for you today is that above pride of nation, be loyal as a servant and soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian Communications 2016

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Today’s comments were originally written in 2009. As I considered this upcoming weekend for our nation’s celebration of Independence, the words remain a relevant reminder today for freedom loving people in every nation. God’s Truth is timeless and applies broadly. Blessings to all of our EDL readers across more than 120 nations.

The Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC

EDL National Cathedral

Passion and Priorities

June 28th, 2016

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV.

Passion is misdirected when priorities become confused.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “passion and priorities.”

Life is best lived with passion. A marriage weakens as passion lessens. Achievements diminish where passion suffers. Friendship and fellowship lose their luster as time and activity together becomes less important. Spiritual life and growth decline when priorities are misplaced or passion wanes. Most people don’t intentionally choose the cooling of ardor but without care it just happens, often without intent or notice and in the smallest of ways. Passion is misdirected when priorities become confused.

Have you ever felt challenged by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to “keep it real” in your daily walk with God? Such a holy passion is not normal to your nature, nor easy to sustain in the surrounding culture. But that is the only way you will truly know God in a depth of experience that is releasing and transforming. When Jesus began to speak of sacrifice and His suffering, John noted that some no longer followed Him. When Jesus questioned His disciples, Peter was quick to answer, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 NIV. Choose to remain unashamedly passionate about Jesus Christ.

Jesus cautioned the church of the ancient city of Laodicea that He would prefer they were, “either hot or cold.” Lukewarmness is never a viable, tolerable option. Read Revelation 2:13-19 NIV. How could this have happened to these loving, Christ-followers in contrast to what had previously been true of them? Their passion waned exactly because they envisioned themselves “rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing,” foolishly content and self-satisfied. Revelation 2:17.

Writing to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praised their zeal for matters of righteousness, but judged their loss of passion in their love for God. “You have left your first love . . this is what I have against you: you do not love me at you did at first” Revelation 2:4 NKJV/TEV. That happens more easily than we know and more quickly than we may realize, with tragic result. Read Revelation 2:1-7 NIV.

By commandment, Jesus established that such wholehearted love for God is non-negotiable in His Kingdom. Your supreme love for God must be “with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” Mark 12:30. Notice the absolute inclusiveness of Jesus’ words – loving God with everything you are and have in every area of your personal resources and ability.

Regrettably, there are seasons in all of our lives when lesser passions compete for our focus and energies. Career, hobbies, sports, travel or such matters can very well distract and preoccupy our attention. With a growing life experience and wisdom, your faith, marriage, family, and friendships will shape your priority and passion. The  great and holy passion of our lives should be, “to know [Jesus] in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” Philippians 3:10.

My prayer for you is to let your heartfelt devotion to Christ inspire and excite others.

Christian Communications 2016

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