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Archive for March, 2012

Following Directions

March 30th, 2012

“O Lord, point out the right road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4 NLT

“Keeping one’s own counsel is woefully inadequate input to your life.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “following directions.”

You soon learn that life is best lived by following directions. The question is this: whose directions will you follow? A friend was recently described as “keeping his own counsel.” As I observed my friend, I found that he was not averse to listening to others. That is a good start. But after listening, he usually seems to follow his own course. He appears to prefer following his own directions, when the option is his to choose. That can get you into trouble, and very lost along the way. Keeping one’s own counsel is woefully inadequate input to your life. “Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:15 NLT.

I was recently in a city less familiar to me, and often requiring directions. Need I say I frequently got a bit turned around and confused? I think I try to follow directions; though I will leave that for my wife and others to judge. Here’s the problem, for me at least. I don’t always get the directions straight. Turning right instead of left takes you off course and eventually late arriving or lost altogether. Once you make a wrong turn, even if sincerely done, nothing after that works out right. I think when I fail to follow directions, it is usually because I was hearing what was said but not listening as carefully as I should.

Navigating streets where you are unfamiliar is not impossible to correct when you make a wrong turn, if you realize it. Navigating the more serious choices of your life; that’s another thing altogether! Should I take the job with more money now or the opportunity with a better future? Should I marry this person or not? Is this the right business decision or is another better for me? Should I choose this career or the other? Can I trust God in this area of my life or trust myself? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were someone to give you the right directions to follow?

The Bible has your answer, “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT/See Isaiah 58:11 NLT. The only question that remains is whether or not a person will follow God’s directions, or will choose to “keep their own counsel.” What a mistake that would be. God has given you the Bible with truth you can trust in every situation. Read Psalm 119:105 NIV. God has also given you the Holy Spirit “to guide you into all truth.” Read John 16:13-15 NLT.

The Psalmist David identified with your need, recognizing that he needed God to furnish trustworthy directions for his life. “Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my trust in You.” Psalm 25:4-5 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you follow the directions of God and His Word

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Ally or Adversary?

March 29th, 2012

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

“God’s intent is that you enjoy supportive company in your journey of faith.”

My thoughts and comments today ask, “ally or adversary?”

Isolation is an unnatural circumstance, even unhealthy to your personality and development. Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 NLT. You were made for meaningful relationships. You can be better if they are the right kind of friendships, not so good if the wrong kind. The Bible is plain and simple about that; “Don’t be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:35 NIV.

Just as truly as I learned a Law of Physics in high school that, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” I have learned you must choose the right kind of helpful companions, or you will find the lesser kind all too available. You must learn to differentiate between allies and adversaries. God’s intent is that you have and enjoy supportive company in your journey of faith. The reality also is that there are those who will be adversaries to your faith. You will have friends; choose them well and walk with them closely. You will have adversaries; avoid them when possible, and ask for help when you need to do so.

Life can be hard on your own, because God never meant for you to be without the mutual benefit of companions. That truth was established early at Creation when God made Adam, then announced, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 NIV. Generations later, David declared the same truth when he wrote, “God sets the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6 NKJV. Though it sometimes feels like it, you do not have to be alone in life.

There are times you may feel as Joshua when facing the obstacle of a fortified Jericho impeding his journey. Read Joshua 5:13-15 NKJV. Standing before him with sword drawn was an imposing figure. Joshua, ever the courageous soldier, asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” That’s important to know. May you be certain as Joshua discovered – God will always be for you!

The Apostle Paul recites difficult life experiences and then asks, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 NKJV. In that truth safety and assurance of soul is found. David recalled his own difficulties and dangers, recounting, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side . .” Read Psalm 124:1-8 NKJV. I cannot imagine my life without God on my side, and Jesus at my side. When God is on your side, “No weapon turned against you will succeed . . When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Isaiah 54:17 NLT/Proverbs 16:7 NIV.

The Bible warns, “Be vigilant because your adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV. You have a dangerous, credible adversary but God is your ally, “an ever present help in time of trouble.” Psalm 46:1 NIV. Be persuaded that “God is for you,” and live in such a way that He can be. Do not live in a way that sets you in opposition to God. “You are of God, and have overcome . . because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:5 NKJV. God is greater than any and all who would posture themselves to harm you.

My prayer for you today is that you live with courage and confidence in God’s strength.

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Quarrels

March 28th, 2012

“It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife.” Proverbs 20:3 NIV

A person who always has to be right will live a lonely and unhappy life.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “quarrels.”

Did you ever watch a couple of preschoolers quarrel? Not a very pretty sight. They are stubborn and resolute. Both want their way with no thought of there being a better way. They both think they are right and the other is wrong, or they don’t even care who is right or wrong. They just want what they want. Shouldn’t we grow out of that kind of self-centeredness? Children will be children, but adults should be adults. “It’s like this: when I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT. Quarrels are childish things.

Many disagreements are little more than a difference of opinion or objective. If the same person requires being deferred to in every discussion or decision, then their relationship is mere pretense. It is unrealistic to think that everyone will have the same opinion as you all the time, or that you will agree with everyone else every time. What do you do? Solomon gave wise advice: “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife.” Proverbs 20:3 NIV. Avoid strife! Before reacting, filter your feelings and process your thoughts. Look inside yourself for a possible solution.

At those moments, your initial response is extremely important to what follows. Remember; always, the goal is to resolve differences not escalate them into a quarrel. Here’s God’s way; “Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.” Ephesians 4:1-3 TEV.

On a practical side, the issue is not usually about who is right or wrong; ordinarily, both are a bit of each. Instead, your mutual objective should be to find common ground for some measure of agreement that allows everyone involved to move forward together. When disagreement is obvious, choose not to be disagreeable or become personal. At those rare times that no solution can be found that satisfies all concerned, agree to disagree and be gracious in your respect. Sometimes life requires willingness to compromise to achieve a common good. Not every difference has to be resolved your way in order for the universe to be at rest.

There are times in marriages, friendships, churches, and business, when a relationship may be more important than the disagreement. The person who always has to be right will soon live a very lonely and unhappy life. The need to be right every time is not a sign of brilliant superiority; it is more an indicator of immaturity and/or self-importance. Is the quarrel more important to you or the friend? You might win the quarrel but lose the friend. Read James 3:13-18 NIV.

Keep your words pleasant and respectful just in case you have to eat them later. Perfection from yourself or another is not a realistic expectation. If you keep that in mind, you will be more tolerant when a friend holds an opinion other than yours. The Bible’s counsel of “In honor, preferring one another” comes to mind as a relational guideline on such occasions. Romans 12:10 NKJV.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.” James 4:1-2 NKJV.  Let’s face it; getting your own way every time is not particularly healthy and doesn’t exactly prepare you for cooperative relationships. Your parents may have allowed you the illusion, or your spouse may defer for the sake of peace, but you will need people in your life with the responsibility to speak truthfully into your life when you most need that, and even when you may least want it. That’s what a good and Godly friend does.

My prayer for you today is that you would prefer to be righteous above just being right.

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An update

March 19th, 2012

Dear Friends, due to ministry opportunities that take me away from my study this week, I will mot be able to provide EveryDay Life as I would enjoy doing. I will miss writing my thoughts and comments as well as the privilege of sharing them with a growing circle of readers. This has become such a valued part of my days, that I miss the practice and discipline of doing so. I look forward to returning to my desk in a few days and will resume sharing EveryDay Life with you.

By the way, thank you to many of you for writing from time to time. It is always encouraging to read your kind words of appreciation for EveryDay Life and how God has used the devotional to challenge your thoughts, strengthening your desire to know His Word better. I enjoy hearing reports of how you share the devotionals with friends as a point of ministry to others. Your emails are affirmation of the Lord’s blessing upon our efforts.

I just received a report from Pastor Arsov of Friends Church, Sofia, Bulgaria, that as of February there have been 89,209 readers to the website of EveryDay Life, translated into the Bulgarian language by Pastor Arsov. I think it has been about two years that EDL has been offered there on a weekly basis. There are 2,041 fans on the EDL Facebook page and have been over 500 subscribers to EveryDay Life. EveryDay Life is being used by God to “touch hearts and change lives.” I am looking forward to my first upcoming visit to Bulgaria for ministry with Friends Church.
If you have never visited the website of EveryDay Life, www.allenrandolph.com, I encourage you to use this opportunity to do so. There is a library of 750+ devotionals there for you to browse at your leisure. God’s Word is eternal and holds truth that trains one’s spirit and transforms the soul.
Blessings, Allen Randolph

Devotionals

Purpose and Persistence

March 16th, 2012

“Don’t get tired of doing what is good.” Galatians 6:9 NLT

“The secret to every breakthrough is follow through!”

My thoughts and comments today are about “purpose and persistence.”

The distance between the person who becomes discouraged and quits and the person who is determined to persist is exactly the same distance between failure and success. I wonder how many people grew weary and gave up just short of breaking through obstacles into amazing opportunities. It may seem an oversimplification, but a person only prevails when they persist. Persistence is nothing more complicated than an unwillingness to be discouraged. Sometimes a successful endeavor is just the result of hard work and persistence.

So, is the answer sheer force of will or stubborn determination? I think the real answer is something so much more important. I think as much as prevailing directly relates to persistence, the ability to persist directly relates to a keen sense of purpose. Purpose provides the motivation to keep believing and moving forward in faith and faithfulness.

Jesus is your example as “the author and perfector of our faith.” Let your heart hear these words, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV. You have to see the joy ahead to walk through the pain and problems presently. Jesus saw you in the hopelessness of your sins and foresaw your joy at salvation.

Jesus knew His purpose clearly and that strengthened Him to persist. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8 NKJV. Jesus never wavered; He never doubted; He never quit. He went all the way to a cross – for you and me. Here is how Heaven saw Jesus, “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to Heaven, Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 NIV/NKJV.

The Bible says, “Those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t’ get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:8-9 NLT. Such blessing is neither for the uncertain of mind nor faint of heart. Jesus promised only that “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 NKJV. In my heart, I can still hear my Dad saying, “Allen, anything worth doing is worth doing well, and if you start something, finish it.” I read a simple comment, “The secret to every breakthrough is follow through!” May you find that to be true.

My prayer for you today is to foresee the accomplishment for strength in the moment.

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