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Archive for November, 2009

Empty Hearts and Empty Lives

November 30th, 2009

“I have come that you might have life – life in its fullness.” John 10:10 Today’s English Version

“Life without Jesus as its center will never be all that you long for life to be.”

My thoughts today are that “an empty heart makes an empty life.”

Remember when life was exciting, exhilarating, and filled with anticipation? Christmas as a child – first day of school – first date – finally, your driver’s license – falling in love? But everyday life doesn’t always feel that way, does it? Life too quickly fills with routines and responsibilities, and each day they wear away a little of the mysteries and wonder. School becomes homework and hard work. Dating becomes complicated, even confusing. A driver’s license involves gasoline, and insurance, and repairs. Falling in love eventually brings rent or mortgage, and bills.

Too soon, spontaneity yields to a schedule that becomes repetitive, and you find yourself trudging through life feeling that emptiness – a sense of “same old, same old” – with something deep inside telling you that life is not meant to be that way. That experience is not because of what you put into your life, as much as what you may have left out of your life.

Life without Jesus as its center will never be all that you long for life to be. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can take His place or fill that void. You see, that void, that emptiness you feel in your soul runs so deep. You cannot mask it with stuff; you cannot silence it with noise; you cannot ignore it with busyness. Francis Schaeffer, noted theologian and Christian philosopher, wrote, “Man has a purpose – to be in relationship with God . . when he forgets his purpose he forgets who he is and what life means.” Life does not work well when you forget who you are and what life means.

Life cannot be what it is meant to be, when you leave God out. God alone makes sense of everything else about your life. The Bible says that Jesus “came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. God makes what you have, enough. God makes friendships and relationships enriching. God makes who you are, meaningful and satisfying. God makes what you do, fulfilling. God fills your future with hope and unlimited possibilities. See Jeremiah 29:11 NLT.

The Bible narrative begins with these words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void, and darkness covered . . and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 NKJV. That is the way anyone’s life is until Jesus is invited to come in and set it right, and fill it with life and fullness, and give light and understanding. He is there, just waiting for your invitation to do so today, and every day that follows.

Here’s how the Apostle Paul described filling the void of an empty heart and an empty life, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you . . know the love of Christ that passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV. Don’t try to live life – even a moment of it – without Jesus filling your heart.

My prayer for you today is: make room for Jesus in everything you are and do.

Devotionals

Obedience and Confidence

November 27th, 2009

“The Lord goes before you and will be with you . . do not be afraid.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

You can listen without obeying, but you will not obey without listening.”

My thoughts today are about “obedience and confidence.”

Verizon Cellular etched their brand into the American consciousness with TV ads asking “Can you hear me now?” I wonder if God ever thinks of asking you or me that?

I know my Dad asked me that more often than he should have needed to do so. Sometimes it seems I can still hear his voice, rarely impatient or harsh, “Allen, did you hear me?” The issue was never really about my hearing – more about my willingness than my ability. His assumption was that if I heard him clearly and correctly, I would obey him completely and quickly. He was right to expect that. It is a lesson for life’s success.

I have discovered that you can listen without obeying, but you cannot obey without listening. If you are not listening, how can you know what God is saying to you, and if you don’t know that, how can you obey? God promises numerous and wonderfully diverse blessings to those who hear and obey. “These blessings shall come on you . . if you will hearken to the voice of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 28:2. The New Testament seems to echo, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” James 1:22.

Why is it that you and I entertain so many other voices (even that of our own ideas and opinions) and allow so much noise to drown out the gentle and essential voice of the Holy Spirit? Why would you listen to other voices – some that deceive, many that distract, and few that will ultimately make any eternal difference?

When God asked a young boy, “can you hear me now,” Samuel’s response was simply and honestly, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10. Samuel’s willing attention to God’s voice implies that he was listening in order to obey whatever he heard from God. And God had a lot to tell him, just because he was willing to listen when others were not.

You would like to know your future, but you cannot. Life is lived one day at a time. Ever wonder what God is longing to tell you about what’s ahead? Would you breathe easier today, and worry less about tomorrow, if you knew that God has it all under His control?

When you are listening, you will hear the whisper of the Spirit in your heart assuring you that, “The Lord goes before you and will be with you . . do not be afraid.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV. You can live with a heart to know and obey God at all times; that commitment allows you to live with supreme confidence.

My prayer for you today is that you will be obedient to His voice, and live confidently.

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Thanksgiving As Benediction

November 26th, 2009

A Blessed Thanks Giving Day!

May this day be graced with His pronounced blessing and favor upon your heart and home. Thank you for your daily fellowship in God’s Word, allowing me to share something of the practicality and wonders of His truth as that has shaped my life. The privilege is mine that you would give audience to my thoughts and comments, and generously share them with others. I was just told that EveryDay Life in Bulgaria as translated by my friends, Lusi and Svetlana Arsov, has been requested by almost 900 individuals in the last 6 months since being made available by Friends Church in Sofia. I rejoice wherever and by whomever His Word is published and received into hungry hearts.

Thankfully, Allen Randolph

“God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 NIV

Life is best when you look past things distressing to all that is blessing.”

My thoughts today are about “thanksgiving as benediction.”

When you hear the word, “benediction,” do you think of that as the closing prayer or final word of dismissal? Actually, benediction just means “a good word or saying,” which usually comes at the conclusion of some event or activity of success. It feels good when you can look at what you have done or made, and say confidently without undue boasting, “I am proud of that.” You feel satisfied with your effort, and pleased with the result.

God gave His superlative benediction in the Garden of Eden when He surveyed all that His hands had made, “and it was very good.” That’s what God felt when He created the world and all that is in it, and finished with His masterpiece, Adam and Eve. God pronounced confidently, without fear of contradiction, “It is very good.”

Jesus gave the ultimate benediction at Calvary as He hung upon a cross to die for yours and my sin as He cried to the Father, “It is finished.” The single Greek word that phrase is translated from was really a benediction . . “that is my best effort and finest result.” When you were created by the hand of God, and again when you were redeemed through faith in Christ, Heaven heard the Eternal Creator say again, and just as true as at Creation, “It is very good.”

Think about it! God looks at you and speaks a wondrous benediction of grace, “very good!” It is never your right to disagree with God, to contradict for whatever reason what He chooses to prophesy over you in grace and love. “Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” Ephesians 1:4 NLT. Will you give a benediction about your life, what you have done with your time, talents, gifts and opportunities, and how you have lived it?

On this Thanksgiving Day, look past whatever struggles and challenges of the moment and see the full brilliance of His grace, and the abounding nature of His love, and the generous supply of His daily provision and give thanks.  You will find you have more for which to be thankful than things about which to complain or regret. Life is best when you look past things distressing to all that is blessing. The sincere giving of thanks – God is very good” – is your fitting response of benediction for God’s goodness to you. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV.

My prayer today for you is: may your life be a resounding amen to what God has spoken.

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Things Eternal

November 25th, 2009

“My life is worth nothing unless . .” Acts 20:24 Living Bible

To have true worth, life’s brevity must be invested in things eternal.”

Lauren, my thoughts today are about “things eternal.”

Have you considered how you would finish the statement of today’s verse? Unless what? What would make the years of your lifetime more worthwhile? You are given only so much time; the actual extent of your lifetime is unknown to you. How you use that time – what you do of lasting value during your life’s season – will determine the worth of the life you live. That will be left for God and others to judge. Meanwhile, you need to live with clarity about matters that are truly important, and those things will ultimately touch what is eternal.

Some years ago, God seemed to be speaking to me about committing myself to “daily focus on Kingdom priorities and eternal realities.” It is easy to just live day by day reacting to the random things that arise and the routines that are comfortable and familiar. But is that how you want to live? Will ordinariness provide sufficient satisfaction?

God would have you engaged with what is important and of priority to His will and work in the world. For life to be truly worthwhile, you have to live everyday with eternity in view. In the grand and eternal scheme of things, even the longest of lifetimes is brief by comparison. To have true worth, life’s brevity must be invested in things eternal.

For life to be filled with joy and meaning, it has to be lived with purpose. That purpose has to be bigger than you, greater than your plans, and well beyond your simply seeking comfort and accumulation of possessions. Only what God counts worthy will you find ultimately worthwhile.

Each day you live is the currency with which you are investing in life and eternity. Jesus advises you to “stockpile treasure in Heaven where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Matthew 6.20-21 The Message. Jesus was teaching about having worth, and protecting that worth for eternity. He knew that your eternal destiny is determined by your direction, and your direction is drawn toward what you value and count worthwhile to give your time, talent, and treasure.

Here’s how the Apostle Paul finished the sentence, “My life is worth nothing unless . . I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:24 NLT. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of that verse voices Paul’s heart this way, “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master gave me of letting everyone know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” I want that to be said of my life! If you want that to be said of your life, be clear about what it takes to make that so.

Lauren, my prayer for you today is that you prefer His plans for your life above your own.

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Be Yourself

November 24th, 2009

“Having then gifts . . let us use them.” Romans 12:6 NKJV

“Take inventory of your interests; consider your experiences; serve others in your giftedness.”

My thoughts today are, “be yourself.”

It is sad, and a real waste of time, energy, and God-given uniqueness, when anyone tries to be someone other than themselves. You gain nothing by being a second-best copy of anyone else. If it were possible that two people are just alike, one of them is obviously unnecessary. You are an original, an individual similar in some ways to others, yet wonderfully distinct in most. Do not depreciate or hide your distinctive traits and talents, but rather identify and celebrate them for the common good.

It is a good thing to take a personal inventory. During college, I worked after classes at a drug store. Once a year we took inventory, carefully accounting for everything that we had in stock. From that, the business learned three things: what we had that we needed, what we had that was no longer necessary, and what we thought we had but didn’t.

That strikes me as the same information you need in order to be successful, as well as comfortable about who you are and what you can do. Do you realize what you are good doing? Take inventory of your interests; consider your experiences; utilize your education and training; observe where you succeed and feel fulfilled; evaluate your skills; serve God and others generously with your abilities. Everybody is good at something; no one is best at everything. Find your place and be yourself – to the glory and service of God. “For everything comes from God; everything exists by His power and is intended for His glory. To Him be glory evermore. Amen” Romans 11:36 NLT.

Wanting to do what someone else does well and being unsuccessful and unsatisfied would seem to me to be counterproductive and a tragic waste of time and talent, when there are many wonderful things that you are capable of doing well and making a real difference while doing so. Know your giftedness and appreciate your own God-given magnificence by serving God and others with the best of what you have been given. Invest yourself in what you are best at doing.

“God has given (you) the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability . . take the responsibility seriously.” Romans 12:6/8 NLT. Talents, skills, and abilities are God’s gifts to be used for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Use them well and use them wisely.

My prayer for you today is to honor God with the abilities and opportunities given you.

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