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Archive for November, 2011

Harvest Time

November 24th, 2011

A Blessed Day of Thanksgiving! I am thankful to God for you, and the privilege you allow me of sharing my thoughts and comments of the practical wisdom of God’s precious word. Doing so makes my life richer, and your occasional notes of how God uses His Word in your lives makes me rejoice with gratitude to God for His faithfulness to “watch over His word to perform it.” Gayle and I wish the most blessed of seasons . . EveryDay Life is not likely to be every day for a week or so, due to travel and ministry opportunities away from home. I hope you will use the occasion to browse the archive here at the website – www.allenrandolph.com. There you will find 675+ devotionals from past seasons on diverse, but hopefully, helpful and practical topics and Bible verses.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

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“I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV

“Tough times are not the time to look for an exit. Instead, look for the lesson.”

My thoughts today are about “harvest time.”

Circumstances distracted and misdirected Naomi. Read Ruth 1-4. She, her husband and two sons, experienced the difficult season of a famine, so they left their home and moved to Moab, to put the tough times behind them. Surely things would be better there, but they weren’t better. They wrongly assumed another place would be better when things are not good where you are.

Tough times are not the time to look for an exit. Instead, look for the lesson. You grow more in adversity than in prosperity, but you must keep a Godly perspective of your problems and confidence in God. While still in my teens, I remember my Father observing, “There are more people who can stand adversity than can handle prosperity.” I have since observed the truth of that.

Uzziah reigned as a king, until it was said of him, “He was marvelously helped until he was strong. When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction for he transgressed against the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 29:15-16 NKJV. Prosperous times have their hazards, as can adverse times. Prosperous times encourage the faulty assumption that you need God less and are in charge and independent. Adverse times may suggest that all is lost, and you now need to do a better job of looking out for yourself. Both are misleading.

Naomi and her family had gone to Moab thinking it was their solution, but soon their problems grew worse. In Moab, Naomi’s sons married, but later through tragic circumstances died, as had her husband. She was now left in a foreign land with only her two Moabite daughters-in-law, and determined to return home to Bethlehem. I love the timing of her return – “she heard in Moab that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread . . now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of harvest.” Ruth 1:6/22. What great news to hear and what a good time to come home. Home and harvest are always a good place and a great time!

She left in a famine, but with all of her family. She returns at harvest. When you lose what you love most, a famine is a small thing. Now Naomi sees life as it is, not as she wished it were, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV. What she failed at first to see was that “the Lord has brought me back.” Your Father always will, if you let Him. And when was that? “At the beginning of the barley harvest!” God has a harvest for you that wipes away all the loss of a famine. Of course, she didn’t yet know what God had prepared for her upon her return. See 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT. Read the book of Ruth, just four brief chapters, but the most amazing story of God’s hand and blessing.

Know this: happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; happiness is found in appreciating what God has given you. In tough times you learn what matters most to you – relationships and people; they matter more than things. Right now is always a good time to start counting your blessings! They always outnumber your problems.

My prayer for you today is: find God’s place of fullness for you, and stay in His will.

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Stops and Starts

November 23rd, 2011

“Tell the people to move forward.” Exodus 14:15 NIV

“Life requires leadership for the success of your journey.”

My thoughts today are about “stops and starts.”

Life is a journey, and on any journey there is a place from which you begin and a place where you hope to arrive; in between are a sequence of stops and starts along the way. The problem comes when you are stopped when you should be starting, or starting when you should be stopped. Wisdom is to know when you should do which. There is a rhythm to your life that is unique; timing is everything. The right thing at the wrong time isn’t right and the wrong thing at the right time doesn’t work.

Israel seemed to have bad timing. They were stuck in Egypt and Moses, with God’s help, could barely dislodge them. It took a miraculous deliverance to get them started and on their way out of Egypt. Then they were stuck at the Red Sea, with an impassable obstacle ahead and a pursuing army behind them. They wanted to go anywhere, but there seemed no where to run. That’s when God spoke through Moses, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today . . the Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14 NKJV. Stand still? When they were ready to be anywhere except where they were, God said for them to stay put. Ever happened to you? Sometimes God allows life to have you where you are because there is something you need to learn about God in that place and situation.

I find it interesting that the very next instruction from God through Moses was this, “Tell the children to go forward . . (they) shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” Exodus 14:15-18 NKJV. Stand still; go forward; it’s confusing. Go forward? How? Obedience in the moment releases the miracle that is just ahead for you. Your willingness to obey even when you do not fully understand allows God to work in ways you could not foresee. See Ephesians 3:20.

How is a person to know what to do and when to do or not do it? Life requires leadership for the success of your journey and that comes from those who have been where you have not yet been and know what you do not yet know – people who care and share – caring about your progress and sharing from life experience. Leaders are not smarter, just more experienced from their mistakes and successes; with the benefit of their experience you can be smarter, exceeding their success and being spared their mistakes while you gain experience and wisdom to share with others who will follow you. Moses had to learn to listen and obey God; Israel had to learn to trust God to speak through Moses. It is my opinion that an individual does not fully develop a sensitivity to hear and obey God well, until learning to recognize the voice of God spoken in the words of others.

The Bible says, “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Proverbs 37:23 NLT. Someone once suggested that both the “steps and the stops” of the Godly are directed by the Lord! I find the latter – the stops – the harder of the two to hear and heed. When God says to stop, it is wise to stop. When God signals you to start, it is a mistake to stay. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV. Your best success will always be found in the center of God’s will.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to recognize and follow God’s rhythm for your life.

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Copy or Original?

November 22nd, 2011

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” Romans 12:2 NLT

“Conformity to this world is the gradual sale of one’s soul by installments.”

My thoughts today ask are you a “copy or original?”

Chameleons are interesting. There are 150 known species and many facts unique to them. Probably the most well known fact is the ability of some species to change their color for social communication or as camouflage for survival. Those species adapt their color to blend with their surroundings, reducing their visibility for cover as a predator or for their safety from a predator. Hence, some people are described as “like a chameleon,” definitely not a compliment.

Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2 NLT. Read that slowly. When you “let God transform you . . by changing the way you think,” only then will you truly discover who you are and, ”what God wants you to do.” God’s will is elusive when you conform yourself to any other will or pleasure.

Conformity evidences that you: embrace a lesser god; display a diminished identity; accept a smaller future; and have compromised your potential. This is the problem. If you don’t have a proper model for who you are and can be, then you will choose companions of convenience rather than example. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning . .” 1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV.

While busy copying someone else – to fit in, or be popular or accepted by the crowd – you gradually lose any sense of who you are, your uniqueness disappearing little by little. Be careful; when you become a copy of others you compromise your future, selling your soul on installments. Be the original God made you to be. This world – with its behavior and customs – is not your home and neither will it be your friend, for . . “your citizenship is in Heaven . . for this world in its present form is passing away.” See Philippians 3:17-21 NKJV/1 Corinthians 7:31 NIV. You are an original, custom designed by God with no one else exactly like you. Be a priceless original, not a cheap copy.

Jesus is your Example! “For the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Romans 8:28-30 NIV. Spiritual disciplines are transformative – God’s Word, worship, prayer, Christian fellowship, obedience, Bible meditation, or any spiritual exercise has eternal influence. “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. Choose to be a little more like Jesus everyday; with His help and grace that is do-able.

My prayer for you today is that you are not tempted to be other than as God made you.

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Joy and Thankfulness

November 21st, 2011

“Always [be] full of the joy of the Lord, and always thankful.Colossians 1:11-12 Living Bible

“Attitude is everything – changing anything and anyone – and it’s always your choice!”

My thoughts today are about “joy and thankfulness.”

Life is not perfect, and every moment is not filled only with wonderful things. But life changes dramatically, and for the better, when you realize that your circumstances do not determine your experience of life, your attitude does! I have known people who have faced more struggles and disappointments than most, but who have found grace for an attitude that reflects who they are, instead of what has happened to them. I have met others who have a comparably easy life with few challenges of consequence, and yet they find little for which to be joyful or thankful.

Every once in a while it is good to ask yourself, “Does my life reflect to others what is going on around me, or what is really true inside me?” That significant difference results from the choices you make. Since a child, I have loved dramatic Bible stories like: Samson finally triumphing over the Philistines and himself, or Daniel in the lions’ den, or the three Hebrews in Babylon’s fiery furnace (that was in what is smell of smkoe, modern day Iraq, by the way).

I find an intriguing comment easily unnoticed in this story of three believers tossed angrily into a blazing furnace for their punishment. Read Daniel 3:1-30 NKJV. When the fire does not destroy them – nor even harm them – the befuddled king calls them out of the fire. He observed, “. . these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected – not even the smell of smoke was on them.” Daniel 3:27. There was no residue of their frightening experience – no emotional trauma, no need for healing of memories, only a powerful testimony of God’s greatness.

If you have ever sat around a campfire, you know that just being close to a fire will leave your clothes and hair with a smoky smell. You don’t have to be in it, just near it! Too many times, your present or past circumstances subtly shape your attitudes and feelings, and fill your conversation. Your story becomes all about you and your problems, when it could instead be a testimony that is all about God. Read Daniel 3:28-30 NKJV. A king’s heart is changed and God is glorified.

Their secret? They were with Jesus! See Daniel 3:24-25. That same experience is available to you. The New Testament records of the disciples, “(The religious authorities) took note of them that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 NIV. By my conversation and attitude, I want my attitude to reflect that I have been in the company of Jesus.

Read today’s verse carefully. “Always (be) full of the joy of the Lord, and always thankful!” Colossians 1:11-12 Living Bible. What it does say is more than you may assume it to say. Whose joy fills you? Your limited joy is like a thermometer that merely adjusts to the surrounding circumstance. The joy of the Lord is more like a thermostat that regulates and controls its surrounding environment.

The more you rest in His company, the more constant your joy and more natural your thankfulness. Some years ago, I chose to pray, “Lord, let my life be more the fragrance of Your presence, than the odor of my experience.” Paul desired the same, “Christ . . through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him . . the fragrance of life . . like men sent from God.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NIV.

My prayer for you today is: may your life be a thankful and joyful testimony of His grace.

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Grace So Amazing

November 18th, 2011

“We have all benefited from . . one gracious blessing after another.” John 1:16 NLT

“Grace comes to you with no strings attached, reflecting God’s character not your conduct.”

My thoughts today are about “grace so amazing.”

It is frighteningly easy to take daily blessings for granted, as though they are somehow earned and deserved. Sometimes, we are quick to note what we think we should have and don’t, slower to recognize so much we do have beyond what we deserve. Such a lapse of recognition has deadening effect on one’s sense of appreciation. Have you done a blessing inventory lately? Take a moment now.

You have more for which to be grateful than you imagine. Life and love alone would be enough, yet God has given you so much more – salvation, His presence, direction, provision, forgiveness, protection – and then consider also the kindness and goodwill of family and friends who provide you companionship, regard, counsel, assistance, availability, and more.

Yet something in human nature seems averse to feeling indebted. Indebted means obligated, and that is not comfortable for most. We seem to prefer believing that what we receive has been fairly gained by our own efforts, abilities, and hard work. But much of that would not come our way with the grace of God and the generosity of others.

In the familiar shepherd’s Psalm, David affirms “Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6 NLT. That confidence was David’s expectation, not because he could demand or earn goodness and mercy, but exactly because he received such from the benevolent hand of God. Long ago, I heard someone define goodness as “receiving what you could not have deserved,” and mercy as “not receiving what you did and do deserve!” I have experienced both in boundless measure, but the latter has been needed most. Along with King David, with both faith and flaws, I too rejoice in the blessings of goodness and mercy from God and others. More than that, I depend upon those for the well-being I enjoy!

“For out of Christ’s fullness we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another, and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, and even favor upon favor, and gift [heaped] upon gift. For while the Law was given through Moses, grace [unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing] and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17 Amplified Bible. When you learn of grace so amazing does your heart expand with joy and thankfulness? It should!

God’s grace comes to you with no strings attached; what He does and gives is not at all the result of who you are. God’s response toward you of “one grace after another” is God being true to His character, not His rewarding your conduct. “The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly before Him . . much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through . . Jesus Christ.” Psalm 84:11/Romans 5:17 NKJV. I close my comments today with the words closing the New Testament and summing up all that was written before them, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is this: experience and express the sufficiency of God’s grace.

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