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Archive for October, 2010

A Good Name

October 29th, 2010

“A good name is more desirable than great riches.” Proverbs 22:1 NIV

“A good name is easier to get, than to get back.”

My thoughts today are about “a good name.”

Have you ever thought much about your name? Your name was not of your choosing; hopefully, it is to your pleasing. It relates you to your family’s generations, and identifies and differentiates you from others. My name is a combination of our family name – with all the history and heritage that represents – and the others chosen by my parents for me. I have felt pride (in the most humble way, of course!) in our family name.

The origin of my first name, Allen, is not all that noteworthy. My mother told me that I was named after her nurse’s boyfriend of all things, when my parents could not decide on a name. My middle name, Ray, is in honor of my Dad, which pleases me. And of course, Randolph, our family name, connects me with the generations of Randolphs who precede me.

When I was a teen, as I went out the door my Dad’s last words usually were, “Remember, you are a Randolph.” Somehow I knew what he meant. I carried his name – a pastor’s good name, known well and respected by those who knew him – and should respect and treat it accordingly. My Dad wanted me to know that a good name is easier to get, than to get back.

A good reputation well earned is priceless yet easily damaged irreparably; a bad reputation is hard to live down and so slow to repair. Your reputation can be the product of what you do, as well as what your friends do. So live wisely, and choose to relate to friends who pull you forward and upward, not push you downward. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV. Don’t compromise your good name, even for a friend.

How do you put a price on a good name? Solomon said, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you . . then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man . .  A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold.” Proverbs 3:4/22:1 NIV. Let us remember the family name we carry, and walk worthy of the One by whom we are known and by whose name we are called. Read Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. Like my Dad reminded me, the Bible reminds us, “Let everyone who names himself by the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it.” 2 Timothy 2:19 Amplified.

My prayer for you today is: value what is irreplaceable, bringing honor to His name.

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The Gift of Favor

October 28th, 2010

“Then you will find favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:4 NIV

“Man’s favor means nothing unless in the final tally you have God’s favor.”

My thoughts today are about “the gift of favor.”

There is no one that gets very far in their career without favor. A definition of favor is: “something granted or done out of goodwill; unearned.” Hopefully, you are one of those people who finds favor in your interaction and association with others. I know that you have seen such people, whether or not you identified their special something as favor.

They stand out in a crowd. Favor comes from God through man. The Bible describes Esther as “obtaining favor in (King Ahasuerus’) sight.” Esther 2:17 NKJV. Samuel is described this way: “Samuel grew . . in favor both with the Lord and men.” 1 Samuel 2:26 NKJV. Joseph’s whole story is about favor: “The Lord was with Joseph . . and God gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Genesis 39:21-23 NKJV. Never forget who you are living to please; God gives favor.

They are likable, because they genuinely like others and people see that and respond accordingly. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV. It may start with personality and attractiveness, but there is a lot more to gaining favor than just a smile and a pretty face.

A dearest friend of mine, Ed, is the nicest guy and has built a successful new car dealership. Many years ago, I heard a high compliment said of him that is still true today, “When you buy a car, you are proud to say you bought it from Ed!” Ever met anyone like that? I meet them in every career – education, health services, retail sales, hospitality, community service, charities, and churches – everywhere ordinary people are serving others extraordinarily. Why? Because nice matters!

They are diligent in their efforts. “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29 NKJV. Diligence opens doors of opportunities for you. If you are not doing well what you are doing now, why expect someone to assume you would do better if given a bigger and better opportunity? “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones . . if you are untrustworthy . . who will trust you?” Luke 16:10-12 NLT.

They live wisely. People respect and trust those who live with practical and Godly wisdom in everyday matters. “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength . .” Proverbs 24:3-5 NIV.

There is much that I wish for you. High on the list, my wish is found in today’s Bible verse, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you . . then you will find favor and a good name in the sight of God and man . . A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor more than silver and gold.” Proverbs 3:3-4 NIV/Proverbs 22:1 NKJV. However well others regard you and whatever goodwill they may have the power to grant you, man’s favor means nothing unless in the final tally you have God’s favor. God’s favor means everything!

My prayer for you today is to receive favor graciously and grant favor generously.

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God Is For You

October 27th, 2010

“If God be for us, who (can be) against us?” Romans 8:31 Amplified

God has been, now is, and will eternally be for you.

My thoughts today are that “God is for you.”

Sometimes you can become so worried about things, or people, that seem against you that you lose sight of who is for you. It is good to live with a firm knowledge of who is for you. I have been fortunate to have a lot of good and kind people on “my team.” Who can you count on to be there for you, applauding your successes, sharing your disappointments, healing your hurts, supporting your decisions, listening to your concerns, drying your tears, rejoicing in your progress, and protecting your interests?

Value your family. They will be there for you always. Build your friendships. They make life a shared journey. Choose inspiring role models and Godly examples. They make you better. If your role models let you down, your friends won’t. But if your friends let you down, your family won’t. But even if your family lets you down, God never will! “If my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10.

Most importantly, know this: God has been, now is, and will eternally be for you. “He did not spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?” Romans 8:32. God spared nothing; He gives everything. The most enduring basis of your confidence can only be found in God. If He would not withhold His Son, why would He withhold anything from you? “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly before Him.” Psalm 84:11.

Now think of the latter half of today’s verse, “Who can be against us?” Now we are talking, not about people who might let you down, but about those that may even oppose you, making things difficult for you, criticizing your efforts, and blocking your progress. Funny how one person who is antagonistic can cloud your realization of a dozen who would plead your cause. Every minute that you spend worrying about those apparently against you, you depreciate something of the importance of everyone who is for you. Every effort and moment you waste to persuade someone to think or feel differently about you, you no longer have to share with those who support and encourage you. That is neither wise nor beneficial.

Paul asks a sequence of somewhat rhetorical questions, Who can be against us? . . Who can accuse? . . Who can condemn? . . Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” See Romans 8. Your answer to those questions evidences the depth and substance of your confidence in God’s being for you. Imagine the surpassing love of God that places Him in your life, as long as you live – and beyond! See Ephesians 3:16-20 NIV/Jude 1:21 NIV.

My prayer for you today is to have unshakable conviction that God is truly for you!

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Thriving and Thankful

October 26th, 2010

“Grow in faith . . let your life overflow with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7 NLT

“Thankfulness overflows from anticipation of the good God is yet to do.”

My thoughts today are about “thriving and thankful.”

In the wear and tear of everyday life, there are a lot of things that can challenge one’s faith. It is not your faith in God as that relates to salvation; that is usually pretty solid for most. The struggle is more often in the arena of trusting God for daily needs, and being confident of His specific help in the times and things when you feel at the mercy of circumstances beyond your control.

Logically, we could reason that a God, who can and would save us from our sins, could certainly handle our distresses. Somehow, pain throws logic out the window for most of us much of the time. It is sometimes hard to hold fast to your faith about wondrous possibilities when struggling with some pretty harsh realities that squeeze into your life experience. The Apostle Paul’s experience encourages you that God will provide sufficient grace and strength to be strong in faith. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV.

Life does not always fit neatly into your profession of faith at those moments when life is scary and its more immediate outcome seems uncertain. If life were easy, I guess that you might think you could do it without God, and would probably try to do so on your own terms. At such times, you can learn to be “strengthened in faith . . overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 NIV.

Often you might think of thanksgiving as a response to something good that has already happened. Might I suggest that the sign of a growing faith is the ability to “overflow with thanksgiving” out of your strong faith’s anticipation of the good that God is yet to do? Abraham looked at the total impossibility of God’s promise, yet “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Read Romans 4:16-21 NIV. Overflowing with thankfulness, he was strengthened in faith as he anticipated that God would do what was consistent with His character and faithfulness.

My friend, Kenny, often said, “If you will keep the faith, the day will come when your faith will keep you when the days are difficult!” I have found that to be true. When you can’t find faith for the circumstance of the moment, plant your faith in the unchanging character and promises of God that await you. Though Paul faced the certainty of his death, he confidently wrote these words from prison, “I have fought a good fight . . I have kept the faith. Now I know there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV.

“And now just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down deep into Him and draw nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.” Colossians 2:6-7 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that your life overflows in thankfulness to God everyday.

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Soul Prosperity

October 25th, 2010

“The Lord has pleasure in (your) prosperity.” Psalm 35:27 NKJV

“Prosperity may result in material blessings, but it never starts there.”­

My thoughts today are about “soul prosperity.”

Who doesn’t want to prosper – to do better for themselves and family? Let me be clear right at the start; God delights in your prosperity. God blessed Abraham with wealth. Genesis 13:2. God told Joshua how he could be “prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 NIV. God blessed Solomon with such wealth as unequalled before or since. See 1 Kings 10:6-9 NIV. The Bible says plainly, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. Now that God’s desire and intent for you is settled, let’s consider what prosperity is, and is not.

Have you ever thought of what prosperity might look like for you? To some that may look like more money, more things, bigger house, nicer cars, better job, or a more secure retirement – that kind of things. We would probably all agree that those are nice to have. But is that really enough? Can’t you have some or all of those and still not be truly prosperous?

I think there are other things for which you would readily trade any of those, if that were necessary and possible. Consider less tangible things like peace of mind, contentment, love of family and friends, or satisfaction in the success you enjoy. What are any of those worth? What kind of price tag could you put on those and others like them?

You see, prosperity may result in material blessings, but it never starts there. True wealth always begins in one’s soul – in the heart of the man or woman who is “rich in good works.” Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV. Let me repeat the Bible verse I quoted above. “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. See Psalm 1:1-3 NLT. If things aren’t right between you and God, you may be wealthy but you are not spiritually prosperous.

Prosperity is not all about hard work. Granted, without your willingness to do so, you leave God without much to bless and multiply. It very much involves your relationship with God and your lifestyle of generosity. Your bank account and earnings alone, as God views it, cannot measure prosperity.

Soul prosperity both results from, and results in, a life of generosity toward God and others. Make no mistake; giving is at the heart of all prosperity. Giving begins with the Tithe, which is “holy unto the Lord,” but does not end there. Leviticus 27:30-33/Luke 11:42 NLT. Generosity toward others is also part of a lifestyle that is blessed with increase. See Matthew 6:38 NIV.

I well remember this caution from my Dad when I was still a teen, “More people can stand adversity than can properly handle prosperity.” Across my lifetime, I have observed that to be more accurate than I would have wished. Read Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV. God delights in your prosperity, but He finds no pleasure in a person’s greed, pride, or unfaithful stewardship. The Bible cautions the person who seeks wealth apart from God, “. . anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Read Luke 12:15-21/1 Timothy 6:6-12 NIV. Be grateful for prosperity; be cautious of its temptations; be faithful in its added accountability. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV.

My prayer for you today is to work hard, live generously, and give God all the praise.

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