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Archive for March, 2013

Obstacles

March 31st, 2013

“Who will roll away the stone from the tomb for us?” Mark 16:3 NKJV.

While you worry about an inconvenient obstacle, God may be working a miracle.

My thoughts and comments today are about “obstacles.”

I notice that a lot of worry and concern are about things you do not control and cannot accomplish on your own. People worry about the past which they cannot change, or the present inconvenience around them, or about matters in and of the future presently unknown. The Bible says, ”Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 NKJV. Deal with today; that’s where you find God working.

God’s Word is so practical and always relevant to your life. Before sunrise, three women walked toward the borrowed tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid prior to the Sabbath. With no anticipation of the Resurrection, they came with spices and fragrant oils to anoint the body of their Lord. Sorrow and devotion drew them. The tomb where Jesus’ body lay was secured with a great stone and sealed by order of Rome.

The indication is that a very real and practical obstacle occupied their ongoing concern and conversation. “On the way they were discussing . . ‘Who will roll away the stone from the tomb for us?’” Mark 16:3 NLT/NKJV. This was not a single, simple comment; it was a recurring conversation. Such an obstacle could render their intentions and efforts unsuccessful. While they worried, God worked. Ever been in a similar predicament? Likely, you have. “But when they arrived, they . . saw the stone – a very large one – had already been rolled aside.” See Matthew 28:1-6 NKJV. What they could not do, God had already done.

How could this apply to your life? Easter is the living demonstration that absolutely nothing is impossible for God. The Bible declares, “God raised [Jesus] from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” Read Acts 4:23-24 NIV. Read that verse again – “impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” If the conspiracies of Hell and evil men that put Jesus on the cross and the power of death that ruled in that tomb could not hold the Son of God, even with Roman guards surrounding, would it be thought possible for any stone, however massive, to confine the Lord of Life?

While they worried about an inconvenient difficulty, God was working the greatest of miracles. Needlessly fretting over what you can’t do limits your trusting God for what He can and will do. Jesus was clear, “He said, ‘The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NKJV. I would suggest that the stone was not moved to “let Jesus out,” nor did it need to be. Maybe God removed the stone to “let them in” – to see for themselves the empty tomb, and report confidently to all others what they knew firsthand to be true.

Your problem, big or small, that troubles and baffles you is exactly the opportunity God welcomes to display His power as unchanged and unlimited. See Romans 8:11 NLT. Soon His followers who once worried about moving a stone would learn to have faith that moves mountains. See Matthew 17:20 NIV. Obstacles are God’s opportunities.

My prayer for you this day is that obstacles will not discourage you.

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Love and Forgiveness

March 29th, 2013

“We have redemption through His blood, [and] the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7 NKJV.

Without a selfless act of forgiveness, you are imprisoned by an inescapable past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “love and forgiveness.”

Who has not been wronged, whether slightly or severely? And who has not done wrong against God or man? Life is not livable without forgiveness and forgiving; the burden of your wrong, or the wrong of another, eventually becomes too great to bear apart from forgiveness. Without a selfless act of forgiveness, you become imprisoned by an inescapable past. See Mark 11:25 NIV/Colossians 3:13-15 NIV/ Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

It is not forgiveness with which we struggle; it is love that is our challenge. Love demands more from you. Love keeps no score of wrongs . . bears all things . . endures all things . . love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. With love, sacrifice is less burdensome; inconvenience not worth mention. Forgiveness comes without measurement of wrong or deservedness. The one who chooses to forgive accepts the price and pain of the errors of another.

Good Friday is about immeasurable love. Jesus, who had done no wrong (See 2 Corinthians 5:21), took your sins, accepted your place before the righteousness of God, paid the awful price of your sin, and felt the pain for every sin and wrong you committed or will commit (Matthew 27:46). The worst of which every person is capable was embraced on a cross, the instrument of our Savior’s death.

His cross represents the worst of sins but also the greatest of loves. He forgave you there because of love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 NIV.

On that cross, your history and destiny were forever changed. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us . . that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Read Ephesians 1:7-12 NKJV. No one has to remain as they have been.

It was a Good Friday indeed, because hope was born there for anyone who would believe. Read 1 John 1:9-10 NIV. Author Max Lucado wrote, “Jesus would rather go to Hell for you, than to go to Heaven without you.” What do you do with a God like that? You can’t just dismiss Him. Instead, you humbly bow before Him, accept His forgiveness, and live your life for Him.

“[Christ] presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready . . We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” Romans 5:7-8 MSG. Imagine; God put His life on the line for you!

Recipients of such grace and love, why do we struggle to forgive? Here is the application. You cannot leave the wrongs of another unforgiven, when yours have been so freely and fully forgiven. The Bible says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God in Christ forgave you.” See Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV. Love is at its best when forgiving.

My prayer for you this day is that you know God’s immeasurable and wondrous love.

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Intentionality

March 27th, 2013

“I live in eager expectation . . that my life will honor Christ.” Philippians 1:20 NLT.

Good intentions alone do not rise to the level of intentionality.

My thoughts and comments today are about “intentionality.”

As a young teen, I “worked” a few summers in my grandfather’s Truck Stop in southern Illinois. Really, I just worked for a roll of nickels to play the pinball machine when not pumping gas. A pinball game is habit forming, a game of random occurrence with the whimsical fall of the metal ball, allowing minimal control by the player. For the small investment of coin and time, the game provides the amusement of flashing lights and blaring sounds as the ball progresses down the sloped surface, haphazardly hitting bumpers and accumulating points with the slim promise of a free replay. Life can be a lot of activity and commotion with no more than amusement in return for one’s expenditure of coin and time.

Some live accidentally, even randomly, ricocheting from one occurrence to another. A lifetime is too irreplaceable for that. Life should be lived deliberately, with careful thought, real convictions, and clear direction. Days without a plan become hours wasted; marriages or friendships without mutual definition and effort diminish; careers without goals are reduced to a succession of jobs without economic progress.

Recently, I have been captured by the Biblical concept of intentionality. Joshua was intentional; “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NKJV. Daniel was intentional; “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. And Jesus was intentional; “I must be about My Father’s business . . I do always those things that please [the Father].” Luke 2:49/John 8:29 NKJV.To succeed, you must learn to live with Godly intentionality.

Paul was intentional, “I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ . . for me . . that means fruitful service for Christ.” Philippians 1:20-22 NLT.Life responds to intentionality. A Law of Physics states that in a closed system “matter degrades from order to chaos.” That is evidenced in modern culture, broken marriages, poor habits, or careless spiritual disciplines. Without intentionality, the natural process is degeneration. With intentionality, the spiritual dynamic can be regeneration. You cannot risk casualness about matters with eternal consequence. See Hebrews 2:3/Mark 8:36 NLT. Spiritual life, like marriage, is one choice faithfully affirmed over a lifetime.

As I left our home to meet friends, I would hear my Dad’s frequent reminder, “Allen, be careful.” Under my breath, I usually protested, “Well, of course, I will be careful.” He knew what I have since learned: carelessness just happens while carefulness is the creation of intentionality.Good intentions alone do not rise to the level of intentionality; be intentional about things you intend.

Your spiritual journey without guide or goal can easily become only emotional and intellectual meanderings. The Bible and Holy Spirit are to be your guide; Christ-likeness must be your goal.“Till we all come to the . . knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of Christ.” See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. The practical application of one’s Christ-likeness is best expressed by spiritual maturity. A definition that works for me is: “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” About that, be intentional.

My prayer for you this day is: live a Godly life with clear and resolute convictions.

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When Push Comes to Shove

March 25th, 2013

“They were about to . . take Him by force to make Him king.” John 6:15 NKJV.

Jesus will not be King at the time or terms of anyone but His Father.

My thoughts and comments today discuss “times when push comes to shove.”

Has anyone pressured you to become what they want you to be? Have you tried pressuring someone? How did that work out for you? Not so well, I would imagine. Manipulation of another is rarely successful and never as satisfying as you hoped. Yet many people insist God be and do as they wish. How has that worked out for you? Not so well either, I would imagine. But people still try.

Chastening Israel for their idolatry, the prophet Isaiah describes the folly of a man cutting wood to warm himself, roast his meat, “and of the residue he makes a god . . falls down and worships it, prays to it, and says, ’Deliver me for you are my god.’” Isaiah 44:17. How foolish you say? Without success, people try to force God to be what they prefer or do what they insist. A god of your making is not much of a god. Idolatry is not always the inadequate representation of God in wood or stone; more commonly, idolatry can take the form of your demands and expectations of God, to suit your convenience or pleasure.

God made you, “in His image and likeness.” He will not allow you to make Him, “into your image and likeness” – a god subservient to demands, catering to whims, excusing faults, indulging sins, supplying wants, requiring little, and giving much. God will not be coerced nor obliged to you. At all times, He will remain true to His nature, character, wisdom, and purpose. There always seemed efforts to force Jesus to comply in ways contrary to the Father or Jesus’ own substitutionary purpose – such as the Tempter’s taunting in the wilderness, the criticism and plotting of religious leaders, the resistance of His disciples, or the mocking crowd at the cross, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross . . and we will believe.” See Matthew 27:40-44 NKJV.

Following Jesus’ miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish, John reported, “When they had seen the sign that Jesus did, [they] said, ‘This is truly the Prophet [we have been expecting] (NLT).’  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” John 6:14-15 NKJV. Imagine; to fit their expectations, people would attempt “by force to make Him king.”

Manage your reaction when God or others do not promptly bend to your will. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, some people in His home synagogue in Nazareth became so angry with His words that, “they took [Jesus] to the top of the hill on which their town was built. They meant to throw him over the cliff, but He walked through the middle of the crowd and went His way.” Read Luke 4:28-30 TEV. Most are not as violent; some just persist, plead, and pout to weary any opposition. God is too wise and loves too much to indulge your insistence.

Jesus will not be King at the time or terms of anyone but His Father, nor should you be swayed by the coercive manipulation of others. You cannot force God to act in the way you want or at the time you want, just because that’s what you want. See Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV. God’s ways are best, whatever pressure you are feeling at the moment. Be wary “when push comes to shove,” in your relationship with the Lord Jesus on your journey of faith.

My prayer for you this day is that you will let God be God and accept His timing as perfect.

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Giving Thanks to God, and You

March 22nd, 2013

March 21, 2013

Giving Thanks to God, and you!

“And the Good News must first be preached to every nation . . The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” Mark 13:10 NLT/Psalm 68:11 KJV.

EveryDay Life has an exciting growth spurt. But first a bit of history . .  

In 2006, EveryDay Life began as a daily email to our granddaughter as she started her university studies. Friends who knew I was writing a devotional for her began to ask if EDL could be copied to them. When the number was about 200 readers, it required a blog site to accommodate the mailing and a friend, Pete, set up EDL in a blog and mailing service, and continues today to host EDL on his company’s servers. Soon after that Paul, a pastor in Wisconsin, asked permission to provide the devotionals weekly to the police and sheriff’s departments where he served as chaplain, which he continues to do today. He weekly emails to about 300 readers and personally hands out 300 printed copies to people who have requested copies.

About three years ago, Lusi, a pastor in Sofia, Bulgaria, who had been receiving EDL asked permission to form a team of translators to provide EveryDay Life in Bulgarian. In addition to about 700 weekly emails, Friends Church began a website and later added a Facebook page for EveryDay Life. In two years, the website recorded 89,000+ readers, and in 2012 Facebook reported that the Bulgarian EDL page was read by 45,000+ persons in 83 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and North and South America.

Now about the growth spurt I spoke of. Though emails will continue to be a primary source for EveryDay Life, a creative, tech savvy friend, Michael, recently constructed a Facebook page for EveryDay Life. Every time the email is sent, EDL is also posted on Facebook. From March 10-16, Facebook reported 1,552 readers in 20 countries, with the largest % of readers, age 25-34. You can do the math and extrapolate the potential number of “hearts touched and lives changed” across the remainder of 2013.

Gayle and I give thanks to God, and you! Only God could foresee the diverse people and places His Word would reach from our “five loaves and two fish.” Nor would this have been possible without those of you who journey alongside us, ministering encouragement through your words, emails, and personal stories. Much of the growth has been from your sharing devotionals with others and your personal recommendation of EDL to friends. Thank you, and let’s rejoice and give thanks to God together.

EveryDay Life is a ministry tool for you to partner with us to share the practical wisdom of God’s Word for everyday life. Share it freely with friends as the occasion is given you, and encourage those who would be strengthened in spiritual life and growth to subscribe at the website. “And the Good News must first be preached to every nation . . The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” Mark 13:10 NLT/Psalm 68:11 KJV.

You can always browse, or refer friends to, the archive of more than 900 previous EDL devotionals at the website – www.allenrandolph.com – or visit the EDL Facebook page – www.Facebook.com/EveryDayLife.AllenRandolph.

[If you support the ministry of EveryDay Life and have a Facebook page, would you consider going to the EDL Facebook page and indicate  you “Like” Everyday Life? Thank you for your help.]

Allen Randolph

EveryDay Life Ministries

Christian Communications, Inc

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