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Archive for February, 2013

A Milestone

February 27th, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dear friends,

Today was a milestone for EveryDay Life and the ministry of Christian Communications. Many years ago, my dear friend and spiritual father, Campbell, said that “our journey of faith is to be marked by milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.” Today is one of those milestones and a fitting and sacred place to pause in thankfulness and praise to God.

Wednesday’s devotional was the 900th “edition” of EveryDay Life! Those mark the personal reflections of a spiritual journey for me that you have been willing to share – some of you from the earliest weeks, and many more of you who have joined the journey along the way. For each of you and your trust, I am grateful. A recent report of EveryDay Life recorded readers in 83 countries last year. Thank you to those who have shared and recommended EDL to your circle of friends. Your personal endorsements have been the reason for the growing circle of readers. Indeed, you have made possible the God-given blessing of allowing “His touch to exceed our reach.”

This journey began at Christmas 2005 when our daughter gave me a beautifully leather bound book, with blank pages, requesting that I write for our grandchildren practical truths I had learned across my lifetime. That Book remains a frequent reminder on my bookshelf – though its pages are still blank – but that book and her sincere request were the seed God used as the desire in my heart to write what became EveryDay Life in September, 2006, and is now a growing archive of 900 practical topics, life lessons, and Biblical applications available at the website, www.allenrandolph.com.

What began as a point of communication with our grandchildren about matters of spiritual life and faith, and continues to be just that, is now shared more widely than Gayle and I would ever have imagined. Thank you for your kind responses and timely encouragement when you write.

I love reading your emails when God has met with you in your devotional time and spoken into your lives through EveryDay Life. I am reminded as I write, “The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it.” Psalm 68:11 NKJV. I am honored that together we are among the company who proclaim it. His calling to one and all is to invest our lives in “touching hearts and changing lives.” By the grace of God, may that remain true of this ministry.

Allen Randolph
Christian Communications, Inc

 

 

Devotionals

Realistic Expectations

February 27th, 2013

“Jesus . . knew what was in man.” John 2:25 NIV.

One’s better potential is possible; others’ expectations rarely are.

Patience is easy to claim until something or someone tests it. Some years ago, I met a person wearing a puzzling lapel button with an unpronounceable mixture of letters – PBPGNFWMY. My curiosity prevailed and I asked of its meaning, receiving their explanation that the letters stood for, “Please be patient; God’s not finished with me yet.” How different your life, and relationships, could be if you remembered that simple reality. We all tend to expect a lot from people, often more than their capabilities at the moment. If you remembered our common humanity, you would have more realistic expectations of yourself, as well as others.

I think there is a difference between seeing the best in another person or having unrealistic expectations of them. One’s better potential is possible; others’ expectations rarely are. Seeing the best is to believe yourself, or another, holds potential just needing encouragement to be realized, while unrealistic expectations determine what you desire a person to be and demand they become. You, and most others, are capable of more than we require of ourselves – better behavior, greater achievement, stronger discipline, or kinder interactions – but all of us often fail the expectations of one another.

Jesus knew people, perfectly. He not only identified with our humanity; Jesus embraced yours and my humanity completely, “yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT. John’s Gospel explains, “Jesus did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.” John 2:25 NIV. Another translation reads, “. . because Jesus knew what was in their hearts.” Today’s English Version.

I am intrigued by the idea; Jesus knows what’s in a man’s hearts. Jesus sees the best in you and works to bring out the best, but also knows your human frailty. He is neither surprised when you are your best nor when you are not. Jesus faithfully calls you to a higher standard, yet understands your best would still be imperfect. That is comforting to me because my heart and intentions are often better than my performance at a given moment.

Jesus knows my heart – that I want to be better than I am; I can be better than I am, but I am not always better than I could be. I think you who are reading this can probably identify with such a confession. My realistic expectation for you is as was Paul’s for the Philippians, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you . . being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6 NIV. 1 John 3:1-3 NKJV.

Simon Peter is well known for his spiritual lapses, none more recounted than his denials of Jesus. After His Resurrection, Jesus affirmed Peter’s love. Mindful of Peter’s failure but knowing Peter’s heart, Jesus said, “Satan has desired to have you . . but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 KJV. Jesus saw and believed the best of which Peter was capable. The word, “converted,” is from the Latin “convertere,” meaning “to turn around.” The word used by Luke can also describe “a rope twisted until rigid and strong.” Jesus knew Peter’s heart; Peter’s failure neither defined his past nor declared his future. Nor should yours.

My prayer for you today is that you are confident of the potential God sees in you.

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Diligence

February 25th, 2013

“The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4 NIV.

Life does not regard your wants; life rewards your work.

There is a very important lesson you must and will learn. Life does not regard your wants. Life rewards your work. And God honors those whose efforts reflect His nature and Name. Some learn that reality early and prosper; to their loss, others learn it late. Obtaining your wants apart from your work is unlikely apart from spiraling debt, demoralizing dependence on others’ charity, or resorting to dishonorable and dishonest behavior.

Paul’s personal example and clear instruction was, “. . this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” 2 Corinthians 3:6-12 NIV. My father was a kind and generous man, but he strongly believed that principle and taught me early that reward came from responsibility.

As a child, I had family responsibilities in our home suited to my age and ability, then worked through High School and College for the extra things I wanted but the family could not afford. I am grateful I was taught the connection between contribution and compensation. The comparative affluence of more recent generations allows parents to lavish children with their wants but, in the process, impoverish their understanding of the practices contributing to future success.

The Bible warns, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing. .” Proverbs 13:4 NIV. There is a reason. No harvest can be expected where no seed was sown in preparation. Proverbs 20:4 NIV. The Bible corrects those who will not provide for themselves, not persons who cannot. This is a Biblical standard useful for self-evaluation of your effort and diligence, not for judging others.

The Bible also promises, “. . the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4 NIV. Diligence is defined as, “the constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.” How would you personally define diligence? For my spiritual and everyday life, I think diligence is best expressed by attention to duty and detail. Diligence requires a “second mile mentality,” doing the extra any situation requires from a success attitude of “whatever it takes.” Jesus taught, “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:41 NKJV. Rather than the mandatory minimum, do the unanticipated; contribute more than required.

Success with satisfaction relates to one’s maximum effort and contribution, not marginal or normal. See Proverbs 12:24/22:29 NKJV. For God and man, as well as yourself, do more not less; give your best not least; be excellent not ordinary; be an example not exception. Your part is to give your best effort and abilities every time; anything less is unworthy. God’s part is to prosper the work of your hands. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart . . Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Psalm 37:4 NIV/Colossians 3:23-24 NIV. See 2 Peter 3:14 NKJV.

My prayer for you this day is: whatever you do, do joyfully and wholeheartedly as unto the Lord!

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Security

February 22nd, 2013

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 NIV.

The great lie is that security can be found in something other than God.

God designed and created you to be absolutely secure. God placed Adam and Eve in Eden, a perfect garden. There they had uncomplicated fellowship with God; they were safe; they were as one; they had every abundance; they enjoyed responsibility and authority. Then Adam and Eve believed a lie, bringing disobedience and sin into that perfect garden and nothing again was perfect. Genesis 3:1-8 NKJV. The lie was that their security could be found in something other than God. That same lie still deceives today. And what did they do? “They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord.”

Throughout entire lifetimes, people search for security. Security is elusive to those for whom God’s presence is uncomfortable. Innately, people feel they are created to be secure, but also struggle with feelings of insecurity. So much was lost when Adam and Eve sinned, yet ever since, “God [has been] reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 NKJV. Reconciliation is still where you can find security of soul – finally secure in right relationship with God through the Savior, Jesus Christ. See Romans 5:12-21 NKJV.

God made a promise to Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 NIV. Moses’ response should be yours and mine, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Vs. 15. Why choose to travel on without God alongside? God’s Presence is always the source of true rest. There would be much in Israel’s journey that they would lack and much opposition and difficulty the nation would face, both from within and without, but the single, most important thing was Moses’ and the nation’s assurance that they would never be without God’s Presence. The nation of Israel is a testament to that truth still today.

You will not find absolute security by searching for the wrong things in the wrong places. Reputation and renown, wealth and prestige, celebrity and influence, properties and material possessions, self indulgence and the myriad of other things in combination or individually with which people try to fill their lives can never, provide security for hearts and souls. Your heart will never be content until it finds rest in God alone. There will never be enough of other things to fill the place that was made for God to fill.

The New Testament echoes with just such a promise and assurance that your life will not lack God’s presence and providence. Paul asked and answered the age-old question, “If God be for us, who can be against us? He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He who gave us Christ not [graciously] give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32 NKJV/NLT.

Do you struggle with emptiness of purpose? Deep within, do you suffer undefined lack? Accept Jesus’ invitation, “Come unto Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. There, in His presence, you will be safe, settled, sound, and secure. See Psalm 16:11 NKJV.

My prayer for you this day is that you will never know a moment apart from His Presence.

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Profit and Loss

February 20th, 2013

 “I consider everything a loss compared to . .  knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV.

Don’t settle for what is merely acceptable; require of yourself what is admirable.

A business owner only knows how well or how poorly they are doing after considering both their profits and losses. It’s pretty simple really; everything is either a profit or a loss. It is very important to understand which is which. I think the same is true of life. Socrates, a Greek philosopher (469-399 BC), said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

The Apostle Paul examined his life, concluding, “everything [else is] a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV.  Spiritually, he understood profit and loss. Paul evaluated his best efforts and good works, “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with Him.” Vs. 7-9 NLT.

You have to turn loose of the stuff you don’t need. Found written in a martyred missionary’s diary, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which cannot lose.” Paul understood this important principle, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial . . not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV. Don’t settle for what is merely acceptable; require of yourself what is admirable. Can you identify areas of your life that are either profitable or loss to you, or a mixture of both?

Life is about profit and loss; examination differentiates between those. Some losses are short term; others are long term. Long term losses are unaffordable. With profits, you should apply yourself where those continue to return welcome dividends for a lifetime. For me, habits and friendships come first to mind. Habits that add to your well-being are profitable; habits that don’t are neutral at best or harmful at worst. The earlier in your life that you choose and solidify beneficial habits, the better your life will be. Actually, you are the product of the habits you allow, some established in your youngest years. Some of those will serve you well; others could cost you dearly.

Whatever good habits may cost you in the short term – in the manner of commitment, discipline, time, effort, or sacrifice – is a small price to pay for what becomes an enduring investment. Personal and spiritual disciplines are not produced by whim. Deferred satisfaction is the product of hard choices requiring daily reinforcement. Critically essential habits are those that nurture spiritual growth and development such as: prayer, fasting, Bible Study, Scripture memorization, Bible meditation, Christian fellowship, giving, and serving. Read 2 Peter 2:2-9 NKJV. Those practices are profitable. “I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 JBPhillips.

Friendships also have to be weighed as to their value. The more prayerfully and carefully you choose the friendships you cultivate, the richer your life can be. If you merely accumulate acquaintances as the years pass, you may find later in life that they can be an unexplainable mixture of both profit and loss. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV.Conversely, good company encourages good character.

Some relationships can imperceptibly diminish the best in you, until your unnoticed loss is no longer ignorable. A person really is known by the company they keep. I was taught to choose friends whose example inspired me to be better. My dear friend, Don, reminded me that I once thanked him, “for not letting me be what I would have been without you.” That would be equally true because of my family, friends, and church we served. Nor can I imagine my life without Jesus. For Him, I want to be profitable in others’ lives as many have been in mine.

My prayer for you this day is: recognize what blesses your life; avoid what hinders.   

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