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Archive for September, 2011

Food for the Soul

September 30th, 2011

“Meditate on it day and night . . careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8 NIV

“In your Bible is the resource to be strong and courageous, prosperous and successful.”

My thoughts today are about “food for the soul.”

It is astounding that anyone would presume to neglect or ignore the Bible. There is accessibility to truth that leaves any person without excuse. The neglect and ignorance of God’s Word is tragic and completely inexcusable. Your Bible is not a decoration for a coffee table; your Bible is indispensable to your health and well-being. Ignore it to your own harm. If a single book truly held the secret of financial success, would you read and study that book diligently? If a book could guarantee happiness and success in your marriage and relationships, would you follow its teachings religiously? Read Psalm 119:97-106 The Message.

An Old Testament prophet wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6 NKJV. The Bible is still the world’s best seller, yet how much does it impact your daily life? God’s Word can fill your mind with knowledge and understanding, direct your thoughts to wisdom, and distinguish God’s truth from mere opinion. But those occur only for those who apply themselves to know and obey its truth. Read Colossians 3:15-18 NIV.

When Joshua faced a daunting task without benefit of the leader and mentor on which he had relied, God gave him this instruction, “Be strong and courageous . . careful to obey all the Law . . do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you will be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful . . for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-8 NIV. Isn’t that exactly what you have hoped for your life? In your Bible is the resource to be “strong and courageous, prosperous and successful.” Why would you neglect the very place those attributes of character and evidences of effectiveness can be found? In your Bible is the path to all you need and all you seek; surely, you can make time everyday for what alone is food for the soul.

The Bible offers infallible, practical wisdom for every situation, but only when its truth is sought and obeyed. Another Old Testament prophet wrote of a time when people had no heart nor interest for what God said, “I will send a famine though the land, not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. In that day the lovely young men and strong young men will faint because of thirst.” Amos 8:11-13. NIV. You have time for the internet, social media, texting and twitter; television broadcasts news and entertainment on hundreds of channels day and night. Make truth that is eternal your priority. You have the time.

“Blessed is the man . . (whose) delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His Law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Read those last words carefully, “Whatever he does prospers!” Imagine the scope of that possibility for your everyday life.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to love and obey the Word of God.

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Living Wisely

September 29th, 2011

“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJV

“Wisdom is living with a concern for doing the right thing for the broadest benefit.”

My thoughts today are about “living wisely.”

Some people do not realize there is a difference between cleverness and wisdom. The world’s culture admires and rewards cleverness – a philosophy that embraces, “me first and others second, if convenient.” It seems to me that being clever in every situation involves the idea of knowing and doing what is advantageous to yourself, even at the expense of others. To live without regard for others’ well-being is in conflict with God’s clear standard. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 NIV. That is not always as simple as it first appears.

Being clever may get you ahead, but everything in life is not a competition. I saw a clever bumper sticker that read, “The one with the most toys wins.” But is that really true? Sometimes the clever one has the most toys but loses – loses family, friends, respect, influence, and satisfaction. If you always have to win, after a while no one else is willing to play. Being clever is not easily consistent with Jesus’ words, “Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:17 NKJV.  Yes, the world’s culture values cleverness while devaluing wisdom. Clever people usually hurt other people, and often the ones closest to them; they hurt people they did not mean to hurt, because they were looking out only for themselves.

By contrast, wisdom is living with a concern for doing the right thing for the broadest benefit. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts . . such wisdom does not come down from Heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil . . but the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13-17 NIV.

Someone described Godly wisdom as “the ability to see your situation from God’s point of view.” For that to happen, you need God’s help, which is exactly what He promises to provide. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all.” James 1:5 TEV. Wisdom is much more than the best of one’s natural cleverness. God is the Source of all true wisdom; Jesus is the embodiment of wisdom; the Holy Spirit is the agent of wisdom. “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJV.

Jesus connected wisdom with truth, and linked truth with the One who is the Spirit of truth: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. John 16:13 NLT. Living wisely is living in Christ. “You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you live wisely, open and honest before God and man.

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A Brief Respite

September 20th, 2011

September 20, 2011

Dear Friends of EveryDay Life,

This is an important and busy week for me, and that necessitates that I take a few days off from writing EveryDay Life for the remainder of this week. I have no worry that your life will be unfulfilled or that you will suffer spiritual depletion without my daily thoughts and comments for a few days, though I know how much I will miss writing EDL and sharing it with you.

Here’s the deal: this is the last week of my responsibilities as Senior Pastor at Trinity Church, where Gayle and I have served since 1975. This concludes a process of transition our family and church families have been prayerfully and obediently walking through together for eighteen months. There are not the usual reasons for this change – not tired of pastoring, not finished with ministry, not weary, not of ill health, have no less love for Trinity Church, and no less a shepherd’s heart for its wonderful people.

There is one reason only: “It is the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason” – God asked us to do so. Gayle’s and my understanding is that we are to continue to serve Trinity Church, but in a different capacity than in our previous years. I have been asked by the Elders to continue to serve among the Spiritual Leadership here and provide pastoral oversight for the three schools that are an integral part of the life and ministry of Trinity, as I have done since their founding in 1980.

Just a week ago with a clear and certain voice, the church members elected a new Senior Pastor, Pastor Scott and Lori Olsen, who have served on the Pastoral Team here for 21 years. Gayle and I anticipate great things for Trinity and its ministries under Pastor Olsen’s leadership.

This next weekend Trinity Church is hosting a time of celebration, called “Milestones of Ministry,” to honor our ministry years here in San Antonio. We have many friends who were formerly staff at this church, friends formerly of the congregation, and Missionaries, Pastors, and Teachers who have been significant voices into the life of our Fellowship who are coming to join the “Milestones of Ministry” Celebration events later this week, and Gayle and I want plentiful time to savor their company.

Please excuse me from writing the remaining days of this week; meanwhile, you can always visit the archive of more than 650 EveryDay Life devotionals available at www.allenrandolph.com. Glad you have chosen to be a part of this much enjoyed aspect of our life and ministry, and I always appreciate your responses and comments on a devotional when God strengthens some understanding of His character and truth to you along the way. You honor me by your fellowship in this ministry of EveryDay Life.

Blessings! Allen Randolph

Devotionals

Godly Aspirations

September 19th, 2011

“They speak a vision of . . imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16 NAS

“You embrace God’s dream when your aspiration engages your whole passion and perspiration.”

My thoughts today are about “Godly aspirations.”

You have probably read or heard it said, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it!” That is a great sound-bite, but is life that simple, or is that true, really? I confirm that you will not achieve much if you do not believe. “In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet, 1803-1882. It is imagination with execution, not without! But I also warn that you will not necessarily achieve an objective merely because you believed you could. Believing assists your efforts, encourages your diligence and perseverance, but believing alone cannot guarantee the level of success for which you believed.

Imagination is a good first step – in athletics, art, business, and in life – but there are multiple steps between that and achievement. That is called envisioning, seeing in your heart and mind what you have not yet seen in actuality. A golfer pictures his golf shot before swinging a club; an artist envisions the process and outcome before a brush is put to canvas, or a word to paper, or a chisel to stone; a business man consults, strategizes, and crunches numbers before proposing a business plan. And still it takes time, best efforts, diligence, ability, careful execution, with dependence on God’s provision and blessing. “Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance; strong men believe in cause and effect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. That is how life works best. Envisioning is where you start; hard work with God’s blessing is how you finish.

God warned the prophet, Jeremiah, of those people who, “. . leading you into futility, they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16 NAS. Any dream is not enough unless God places His dream in your heart, rather than your following wishful thinking or personal desire for prominence or reward. Be careful that pursuit of your own dream does not become your nightmare. The best of your dreams is not equal to God’s dream for you. You might be sincere and well intentioned, but God is not responsible for making your own dreams come true. He is, however, committed to realize His purpose through those who trust their future into His hands, willing to serve Him obediently.

Ask any of the thousands who aspire to winning American Idol or America’s Got Talent’s grand prize of a million dollars with a recording contract and show in Las Vegas. Not all dreams come true, no matter how hard you believe or try. Some have only fantasies; many have dreams; fewer yet have excelling talent. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run? But only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV. When your aspirations fully engage your whole passion, preparation, and perspiration, you have embraced God’s dream.

My prayer for you today is that you aspire to obey God above all other personal desires and plans.

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Family Business

September 16th, 2011

“I must be about My Father’s business.” Luke 2:49

“The family business is to be fully engaged in the Father’s business.”

My thoughts today are about “family business.”

Before mega corporations and global commerce, family businesses were what built America, and produced the American dream. Small businesses were often begun in store fronts, the family living above the business and everyone in the family from youngest to oldest contributing something to the family’s business success. Hard work, long hours, and shared responsibility characterized the American dream.

As a preteen, I spent my summers in Kenmore, NY, with my paternal grandparents. It was a small family business typical of that generation, a barber shop in a duplex where my grandparents lived behind the shop, and my uncle worked in the barber shop with my grandfather and his family lived in the other side of the duplex. My job was to sweep the floors and straighten the magazines after the last customer had left (and then play on those marvelous, old-style, barbers’ chairs!) I remember those years fondly and their memories shaped who I have become – prizing the values of family, personal industry, and the individual contribution of working together for the common good.

Jesus was twelve years old, accompanying his family to a feast day in Jerusalem. His family and fellow travelers began their way home, when Joseph and Mary realized Jesus, their young son, was not anywhere among the travelers. They retraced their steps and two days later found the young boy in the Temple conversing with the teachers. Jesus’ response? “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49 NIV. Jesus, even at twelve, understood His purpose and established His priorities accordingly.

Let me ask you this: should you not also have the firm and clear conviction that your purpose is to be “about your Father’s business?” Paul wrote, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent n anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV. As Christ-followers, the family business is to prioritize and fully engage yourself in the Father’s business – the eternal affairs of the Kingdom of God.

Here’s what that would look like: “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:32-33 NLT. That’s where this gets practical, when you start “making the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Father’s business is primary, not secondary; consistently, not sporadically.

Being brutally honest with your own heart, what would you say is your primary concern? If your first passion is not your Father’s business, you need to reevaluate and make significant changes. Now is always a good time for necessary adjustments. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life.” Matthew 19:29 NLT. Tell me; where can you make a better long-term investment than that?

My prayer for you today is that eternity be more important than time and God more than self.

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