Archive

Archive for November, 2013

Giving Thanks

November 29th, 2013

THX PIX 2

 

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV.

Even a bad day is better when God is with you and others are praying for you.

 My thoughts and comments today are about “giving thanks.”

There is always something for which you can give thanks. Any time is a good time to be thankful. I remember when a dear friend was facing very serious health crises. There were some good days but many difficult ones, dealing with challenging treatments and their debilitating aftermath. Among our conversations, I was careful not to ask how he was feeling, because I knew that most of the time he was not feeling well.

Instead, I asked, “How are you doing?” I rejoiced when he could respond, “Better today.” The simple truth is that every one of us can be thankful that any day is better than it might have been without the grace of God and the love and company of family and friends.  Even a bad day is better when you know God is with you and others are praying for you.

A favorite hymn of mine is, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” How easy it is to feel thankful when all is well and you are feeling good about your life. But what do you do those other times when everything is not as you wished it were? You give thanks sincerely. Feeling thankful is elusive; being thankful is obedience. “Always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all . . In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15/18 NKJV.

Giving thanks is not a ”when you feel like it” kind of thing; giving thanks is the active pursuit of what is good for you and embracing the expressed will of God for you. Failing to do so is acceptance of something much less and a failure to follow God’s will for your life, whatever your present circumstance.

Don’t dwell on what’s distressing you; look for ways God is blessing you. There is always something for which you can give thanks, if you have a heart to look for your blessings. Chose to be thankful. Your Father has a master plan that is unfolding under His wise and watchful loving care. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose . . predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” See Romans 8:28-29 NIV.

As I thought about that, I realized there is a practical connection between thankfulness and hopefulness. It is hard to be hopeful about things yet unforeseen if you can’t find reasons for being thankful presently. On God’s agenda your calendar is filled with better days.

The Bible is clear, “Giving thanks always, for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 NKJV. Notice those words: always and all things. Admittedly, that is challenging for any of us, but obviously achievable in faith and with gratitude. Thanksgiving is the best of times to look for the blessings that assure your heart of better days.

My prayer for you today is that you are persuaded that any day is a better day with God.

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A Blessed Thanskgiving

November 28th, 2013

 

A blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving Day . .

On this day, we pause with family and friends to give thanks to God for His goodness and generous providence.There is a richness of grace that we experience from God, and a sufficiency of supply that He provides daily.

I thank God for you, and for your interest in and support of the ministry expression of EveryDay Life. Sharing His Word with you is my great joy and high privilege.

“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God . . “ Psalms 95:2-3

Allen and Gayle Randolph

Christian Communications, Inc.

Devotionals

Thanksgiving Dinner

November 27th, 2013

“[God] prepares a banquet for me . . and fills my cup to the brim.” Psalm 23:5 TEV.

There is no situation in which God is unable or unwilling to provide for you abundantly.

My thoughts and comments today are about “thanksgiving dinner.”

I love this time of year. Autumn brings a change of season introducing Thanksgiving Day and leading to the joy-filled celebration of our Savior on Christmas Day. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with family traditions and traditional foods – roast turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, candied yams, warm dinner rolls, and of course, pecan and pumpkin pie, all enjoyed at a seasonally decorated and well-appointed table. But first, each family expresses thankfulness to God for His provision and for one another.

David, the Psalmist, enjoyed “a thanksgiving dinner” of sorts, which he describes in the most familiar and beloved of his psalms, Psalm 23. Giving thanks to God, David wrote, “You prepare a banquet for me . .  You welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim.” Psalm 23:5 TEV. In unexpected times and places, God prepares and provides for him. David dines with a heart of thanksgiving for the ample provision of God in every situation and circumstance. There is no situation in which God is unable or unwilling to provide for you abundantly. Our God“. . is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 NKJV.

From the life of Elijah, let me share three examples of “a thanksgiving dinner.” In a severe drought and resulting famine, God sent Elijah where He alone could provide for him. Read 1 Kings 17:1- 7 NKJV. “Hide by the Brook Cherith . . you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there.” God provided “a banquet” by natural means delivered in unexplainable ways; scavenger birds brought bread and meat morning and evening. Unusual circumstances don’t matter – when God “prepares a banquet . . and welcomes you as an honored guest.”

In a worsening drought for three years, God redirects Elijah to a widow in Zarephath. Read 1 Kings 17:8-16. Her meager resources exhausted by the famine, she shared with Elijah what little remained, which was then miraculously replenished daily as long as the drought endured. I believe Elijah gave thanks. God provided “a banquet” by a miraculous multiplication of her meager resource. Insufficient resources are irrelevant – when God “prepares a banquet . . and welcomes you as an honored guest.”

And lastly, from an angry queen seeking his death, Elijah “arose and ran for his life.” Read 1 Kings 19:1-8. Running scared and disheartened, Elijah collapses in exhausted sleep until awakened by an angel with fresh bread and water prepared, and “Elijah went in the strength of that food forty days and nights, as far as the mountain of God.” God provided “a banquet” by supernatural provision in desperate circumstances. Debilitating fear and despair disappear – when God “prepares a banquet . . and welcomes you as an honored guest.”

With the Psalmist, I have found this true, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Psalm 37:23-26 NIV. At this Thanksgiving season, I am grateful that Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” a prayer He never fails to hear. Whatever the challenge or pressing need of your present situation, you have ample reason to trust God and give Him thanks for His faithful and sufficient provision – today, and every day.

My prayer for you today is that you find reason every day for thanksgiving to God.

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Promises and Conditions

November 25th, 2013

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19 NIV.

Sometimes, where you are is not where you need to be.

My thoughts and comments today are about “promises and conditions.”

Promises are rarely unconditional. Inevitably, there will be one or more conditions inherent within a promise. With God, every promise is more grand and generous than you imagine, but there is usually a precondition to be met or an expectation to be accomplished by a willing heart. The commitment that God has made to you eternally is accompanied by expected and appropriate responses from you. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19 NIV. The providential will of God is reserved for those who are first “willing and obedient.”

As I think through Scripture, I find the principle to be common. IF . . you forgive, you will be forgiven. Matthew 6:14 NIV. IF . . you give abundantly,you will receive accordingly. Luke 6:38 NAS. IF . .  you have faith, you can please God. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV. IF . . you desire to follow Jesus, take up your cross daily. Luke 9:23 NKJV. IF . . you thirst, come and drink. John 7:37 NKJV. IF . . you love Jesus, you will obey. John 14:15 NIV. IF . . you confess Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 NIV. IF . . you endure hardship, you will reign with Him. 2 Timothy 2:12 NLT. IF . . you confess your sins, He is faithful to forgive. 1 John 1:9 NIV. My Biblical examples are extensive but not exhaustive.

Moses brought Israel to the border of the land of God’s purpose and provision – a land providing bountifully all they would need – cities, houses, wells, fields, vineyards, and flocks and herds – but they feared the giants more than they desired the sufficiency and surplus there and more than they believed God’s promise and power. Many of them even spoke of returning to Egypt.

When God appeared to Joshua after Moses’ death, His direction to Joshua was succinct, “Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give. [There] I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” Joshua 1:2-3 NIV. (Also read Vs. 4-9 NIV). Everything good and plenty awaited them. What an incredible promise of inheritance and destiny. The conditions? They had to cross a swollen, flooding river and walk the land promised to them. The fledgling nation was once again at a crossroads in the purposes of God. Maybe you are at a place of decision in your life.

There are two practical observations of Joshua’s and Israel’s situation that I think are relevant to yours and my crossroad times.

(1) You have to leave where you’ve been, to go where you need to be. You may feel safer or more comfortable where you are but that doesn’t matter if that’s not where His blessings wait. Your spiritual life is a journey, from faith to faith and from glory to glory, into the greater purposes of God.

(2) You have to go where you are supposed to be, to receive what God promises to give. The promises of God are given and fulfilled on God’s terms, not yours. God’s promises and their conditions remain, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.”

My prayer for you today is that you will be content only in the center of God’s purpose.

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Blessings in Disguise

November 22nd, 2013

“Problems and trials . . are good for us.”  Romans 5:3 NLT.

Rejoice even when you have to look for a reason to do so.

My thoughts and comments today are about “blessings in disguise.”

Apparently, my Mom believed I always knew what was good and presumed I would consistently chose the good. I am assuming all that because, from my preteen years, I can still remember her frequent, and necessary, warning to me, “Allen, if you know what’s good for you, you won’t do that again.” When I failed to know what was “good for me,” by a practical process of elimination, both Mom and Dad assisted me to learn what wasn’t. But we are all a bit like that, confusing what’s good for us with what’s not.

The reality is that we really don’t always know what is good for us, or at least we live as though we don’t know. We make foolish choices too often. The obvious choice is seldom the right choice. By nature it seems, we are prone to self-indulgence. You may assume self-interest is a good thing, yet the Bible teaches that self-denial is the path to choose. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23-25 NKJV. What’s good for you is this: follow Jesus fully, whatever sacrifice that requires.

Every one of us would prefer receiving, whether approval, applause, acclaim, recognition, or reward, but Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV. There is pleasure from what you receive, but that is comparatively brief; however, your satisfaction in what you give endures long after the gift. You might presume that what you give leaves you with less, but what you gives compounds itself to your benefit more than what you keep. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. What’s good for you is this: generosity is a wise investment in your own well-being. See Matthew 19:29 NKJV.

Any one of us would prefer a carefree life, without pressures or problems, as unlikely as that is to happen, but the Bible teaches that problems are not always a problem; sometimes, problems can be blessings in disguise. Not everyone sees past their disguise. I expect yours or my first question would likely be, “How do problems benefit us?” The Apostle Paul, no stranger to suffering, reflects on those blessings in disguise as a reason for our joy, ”We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us . .” Romans 5:3 NLT. See James 1:2-4 NIV. What’s good for you is this: rejoice even when you have to look for a reason to do so. See John 16:33 NIV.

Look closer at both the context and conclusion of Paul’s words to Christ-followers in Rome. “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:2 NLT. On that foundation, Paul adds a further, less likely but equally as important, cause for rejoicing, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us . .” Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Problems are no indication of God’s disfavor; problems are places where you discover God at His best.

My prayer for you today is that you not overlook any blessing, in whatever guise it comes.

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