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Archive for August, 2014

Better Together

August 11th, 2014

On a personal note: after this mailing of EDL, Gayle and I will be taking a few weeks to celebrate our 50th anniversary – though a year late! The importance of the occasion and the travel involved dictate that the writing of EveryDay Life be set aside, to resume in September. I will miss the discipline and enjoyment of sharing my thoughts from God’s Word, as well as reading your kind responses and comments, but anticipate resuming my joyful assignment upon our return. During these weeks, let me suggest that you use the option of browsing the archive of more than 1,100 previous devotionals available at the EDL website: www.allenrandolph.com. I look forward to our return and our visits together around God’s amazing and practical Word.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

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“That you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:12 NIV.

Some measure of your success requires the cooperation and contribution of others.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “better together.”

Let me journey a little further on our recent theme of encouragement. The Bible is clear, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. Human nature is a bundle of contradictive inclinations; for example, a person can long for meaningful closeness with others, while at the same time requiring privacy from others. Relational intimacy can seem threatening; isolation can feel discomfiting.

At every level of personality, our fallen natures conflict with the Creator’s intention. At creation, God observed all that He had made, then declared, “It is not good that man should be alone.” God’s solution was, “a companion who will help him.” Genesis 2:18 NLT. God’s assessment is unchanged and His solution remains the same. People need other people.

Jesus chose His disciples, “to be with Him.” Mark 3:14 NKJV. Much of God’s intention for you begins with a call to divine companionship. I think the mention is significant that when Jesus gave His disciples power over unclean spirits and all kinds of disease, He sent them, “two by two.”  Mark 6:7 NKJV. Jesus knew they would face challenges and feel rejection, and partnered them for the mutual encouragement they would require. Together is a better option.

The Bible is full of such examples: Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, and others. In prison, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life . . bring Mark when you come, for he will be helpful to me.” 2 Timothy 4:10-11 NLT. It is a wise individual who recognizes his or her need for others.

“I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:9-12 NIV. The encouragement of each other’s faith provides a mutual strength.

Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one . . pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV. Solomon reasons that your efforts together are more productive; help is more readily available; comfort is found in company; strength is compounded. Some measure of your success requires the cooperation and contribution of others. You will not reach your full potential without the meaningful fellowship of others. And some measure of others’ accomplishments and fulfillment requires yours. Encouragement is neither complicated nor extravagant; it can be as simply expressed as a genuine interest, a sincere inquiry, an affirming word, a heartfelt prayer, an overture of assistance, or an act of generous benevolence.

Today, my prayer for you is to be as encouraging to others as someone has been to you.

Christian Communications, Inc.

 

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Encouragers

August 8th, 2014

May our Lord Jesus Christ . .  encourage your hearts” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates.

My thoughts and comments today are about “encouragers.”

Disappointment occurs when expectations and assumptions are “not as appointed.” If disappointment lingers or when multiple disappointments occur, discouragement results. Discouragement has an emotional element, but is much more. The emotion disguises a loss of courage to persevere. Inaccurate though such feelings may be, they temporarily persuade you that your current disappointment is predictive of your future. God has good news for you. “Therefore we do not lose heart . . inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”  Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV. Courage is the confidence that God has everything under control and all will be well.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. When discouraged, read that slowly and frequently. Sometimes, God encourages you by sending an encourager into your situation.

Paul described his need for encouragement. “There was no rest for us . . outside there were conflicts, inside there were fears – have you ever identified with those feelings? – but God who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy . . so was the news he brought . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5-8 NLT. I remember my Dad saying, “Everyone makes others happy. Some when they come and some when they go.” Be like Titus, a joyful presence and carrier of good news.

Everyone needs an encourager, a friend who helps you feel, then believe, that there is reason to be hopeful. You can be a world-class encourager, if you will. Maybe you never assumed that what you could say or do would make any difference. But it does, and you can. The person who waits to only do great things, never does the ordinary things they could have been doing all along that make a difference. Joseph became so good at blessing others that they changed his name to Barnabas, “son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. Once you see a face brighten by a word shared or a heart lifted by a kindness shown, you will search for every opportunity to encourage others. The practice becomes a habit, then the habit becomes a lifestyle, and the lifestyle becomes contagious.  

There is someone nearby who needs you to be an encourager. The surest way to be perpetually encouraged is to practice the joy of encouraging someone else. When people see you coming, may they feel as Paul did, “At the sight of these men, Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” Acts 28:15 NIV. Good company always brightens a day and blesses a heart.

Today, my prayer is for you to live with courage, encouraging others along the way.

(Bible references are NKJV unless noted.) 11097

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Abiding and Abounding

August 5th, 2014

“I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5.

The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abiding and abounding.”

England has long been one of my favorite places to visit. I especially enjoy having lunch in British pubs, the older and authentic the better. I enjoy seeing signs on businesses, such as, “Established 1868.” Such information evidences pride in history and heritage, implying promise of reliability.

Several things have prompted my thoughts today. A few days ago, I came across the notes from my first sermon as a young pastor at Trinity Church, “The Life That Is Established,” May 25, 1975. I knew that was a Biblical principle I wanted to visit again. And over the weekend, I officiated at long-time friends’ Renewal of Vows on their 70th Anniversary. Then Sunday, I dedicated our great grandson, Carter, as Gayle and I also celebrated our 51st Anniversary. I guess I like people, places, and things that have been and will continue to be around a while. Your faith in Christ should be like that.

Paul was intent on Christian life being lived with confidence and security. I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in [the faith] with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:5-7. Paul refers to both “your faith,” which you are to exercise and be “steadfast,” as well as “the faith” in which you are to abide and be “established.”  Your faith abides upon the greater faith. See John 15:7, 9-10/1 John 2:24. What God begins in grace He continues in faith and concludes in thanksgiving. That process results in your being “established and abounding with thanksgiving.” The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

The world is a complex state of flux, symptomatic of shifting politics, international alliances, erratic economies, disintegrating marriages, and dysfunctional families. You need a place of emotional, moral, and spiritual equilibrium. David wrote, “He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God.” See Psalm 40:1-3. Such a place is only found in God and His truth. There you recover direction and determination.

A proper outcome requires much more than good intentions and optimistic beginnings. A final outcome results from what you do between where you begin and when you finish. Keep God as “the Author and Finisher of your faith,” at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. The Bible provides a practical guide for abiding and abounding. Read Hebrews 12:1-4. There is much that will oppose and discourage you. The Bible describes those oppositional forces as, the world around you“every weight and the sin that ensnares you” (vs. 1-2), and the flesh within you “weary and discouraged in your souls” (vs. 3), and the devil against you“striving against sin” (vs. 4). After Paul’s lengthy and practical discourse about the Resurrection, he logically concludes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Today, my prayer for you is that you abide in Christ and abound with thanksgiving.

Christian Communications, Inc.

(All Bible references are NKJV unless otherwise noted.)

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