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Archive for May, 2015

Mercy

May 30th, 2015

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ.” 2 John 3 NIV.

Grace adorns us; mercy spares us; and peace abides with and within us.

My thoughts and comments today are about “mercy.”

Who among us has not needed mercy? Everyone messes up sometimes. Our common humanity leaves us vulnerable to errors of both omission and commission, the omission of things we have not done when we should have and the commission of things we have done which we could and should have avoided. “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV. Among God’s many attributes, Paul rejoices that God, “is rich in mercy,” because of His excelling love and exceeding grace. Mercy is needed most and given best when deserved the least.

Everyone loves David’s Psalm, in which he concludes, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6. Be assure that God’s goodness and mercy are your promised companions throughout a lifetime, and beyond. Though an oversimplification, I choose to think of goodness to be, “God giving you what you have not deserved,” and mercy to be, “God sparing you from what you do deserve.”

Without mercy as companion, goodness would be overwhelmed with grief; without goodness as its source, mercy would merely be maudlin sympathy. “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.” 2 John 3 NIV. Grace adorns you; mercy spares you; and peace abides with and within you. Mercy is the essential link between God’s grace and His peace. Read Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV.

Mercy begins with the benevolence of God. Read Psalm 136. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV. But mercy must not end there. God’s mercy continues through you.

Jesus said, “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:36. All who receive mercy are accountable to administer mercy to others as freely as received. Jesus reminded His followers, ”Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7. Mercy flows to you only to the extent that mercy flows through you. As is true with most of the topics I share, mercy is more sincere in the everyday kindness we show one another than in occasional, grand gestures. Read Matthew 18:23-35. The attributes of mercy are: compassion, empathy, understanding, generosity, and forgiveness – with a healthy measure of forgetfulness. Reflect on Paul’s personal testimony of God’s mercy. 1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV. If mercy could be given in spite of his history and failings, mercy is available to the worst among us.

Today, I pray for you that mercy will flow from God through your heart and life to others.

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Love Spoken Out Loud

May 26th, 2015

“God will not forget the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people.” Hebrews 6:10 NKJV.

Love is best seen in everyday kindnesses more than grand gestures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “love spoken out loud.”

There is much in our world that poses as love. Everything that claims to be love or looks like love isn’t necessarily love. Sometimes, it is just a temporary emotion, as evidenced by the accelerating frequency of infidelity or divorce. Emotions neither prove love, nor produce love; instead, emotions are merely a by-product of love.

Love is both a choice and a learned response. You choose to love others because you have been selflessly loved. That could explain why a loving family begins with the sure and sincere love of parents for each other. Children learn to be loving by experiencing secure love surrounding them. As beloved children and later as adults, we learn to be loving husbands or wives, loving parents, and loving friends.

Love can be hard to define but easy to recognize. More than once, God is described in the simplest of terms, “God is love.” Read 1 John 4:7-12/15 NIV. That being true, where else but the Bible could you find the accurate description of love? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV. Love never fails; people fail to love.

For me, a few simple words define love. “Love, to be authentic, must be practical and observable.” Our friend, Betty, is a remarkable, loving lady who has a unique ministry. She gives cakes for people’s special occasions. She probably could make any kind but her specialties are German Chocolate or Coconut cakes, and she bakes those exquisitely. Recently, when she found it was my stepfather’s 94th birthday, she baked a Coconut cake, his favorite. My wife eloquently described Betty’s kindness as, “Love spoken out loud.” Maybe love looks like baking a cake, even when he is not your grandpa.

Love is best seen in everyday kindnesses more than grand gestures. Maybe love is doing more than could be expected or required, or offering help without needing to be asked, or sacrificing for someone without need for notice or regard for reward. This rings true. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I have been considering a simple question; what does love for God really look like? The answer was simpler than I assumed. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10 NIV. Your unforgettable “work and the love you have shown Him,” is witnessed in a lifestyle of helping others in ways, small and large; that is, “love spoken out loud.”

Today, I pray for you that your life will accurately express your love for God.

EDL pix love expressed

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Real Life and God’s Love

May 23rd, 2015

“Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about “real life and God’s love.”

Thursday was quite a day. I was awakened to the news that my stepfather, a man of 94 years and a minister for 75 of those, was rushed to the nearest Emergency Room. Short of breath, dangerously low Blood Pressure, and an erratic heart rate were not the news to begin a day. Every effort was being made by caring doctors and nurses to make him comfortable, stabilize his vital signs, then diagnose and treat the source of his medical crisis. Hours passed with not much success, other than managing the crisis. The family, grandchildren, and great grandchildren rushed from jobs and personal responsibilities to be with their Great Poppa.

Hearts bore concerns; eyes were moist with tears; hope and fear co-mingled. A sad and unwelcome realization grew that a precious life was very much at risk. Expressions of love were voiced to Poppa Warren and prayers were spoken for and with him. He recognized and spoke to the individuals around his bed, voicing his love and praying for them specifically. He expressed his gratitude for “being loved and accepted as part of this family,” which was quickly affirmed as, “You are not just part of the family; you are the heart of this family.” And he is.

By mid-afternoon, a malfunctioning pacemaker was identified as causing the erratic heart rate, inadequate oxygen, and precarious Blood Pressure. The cardiologist prepared for a surgical procedure to correct the problem. And then, for a few terrifying moments there was no heart rate at all. Tears flowed as prayers were spontaneous. Amazingly, even miraculously, in moments that seemed more like minutes, his heart resumed. He was quickly moved to the surgical center and two hours later, his heart rate was normalized and blood pressure regulated. Appropriate gratitude and praise was given to God.

Rising before sunrise the following morning, our eldest granddaughter, Lauren, wrote a touching testimony of the love of God in a tender tribute to her great grandfather, Poppa Warren, whose love and life have made the love of God real and personal for her. I asked permission to share her personal reflections with you. Though admittedly subjective, I believe she has articulated God’s love more authentically and intimately than most sermons or commentaries ever do.

Lauren Covington, “Fun times with the Covs”

“But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7/13 NIV.

“Yesterday was one of the most emotionally charged, intense days of my life. My whole family thought that we were going to lose my great grandfather yesterday but by God’s grace, he survived an emergency surgery and is recovering. At 94, that is nothing short of a miracle.

As my family was standing around his hospital bed, in what we all thought were his last moments, he surveyed the room and said, “Thank you for this family’s love.” I have reflected on that moment quite a bit over the last 24 hours and feel God speaking to my heart about His love, and I would like to share that.

Being raised in the church, I have always known about God’s love. I know the Bible stories that demonstrate that love and I also believe without any doubt in that love. But what I’m learning over the last couple of years, is how to truly experience God’s love. A love so deep that is nearly impossible to wrap our heads around.
I’m an analytical person. I like things to make sense and add up. I like order. God doesn’t usually fall into those categories. And that’s hard for me, most of the time. I want to know how things are going to work and just trusting and believing has always been a struggle.

My great grandfather has taught me more lessons and been an example to me in more ways than I could possibly put down on paper. But standing in his hospital room yesterday, he taught me and showed me the greatest lesson so far. Poppa’s love for our family is so deep and so pure. He has never once let me down and is a constant source of love and affection in our family. He has been the heart of the family, as was said yesterday.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to love someone so much that it hurts – for instance, the love I have for my kids. I didn’t even know it was physically possible to love another human so much, until I had Kaylee. That love is unlike anything. I would give my life for my children, without a moment’s hesitation. Yet, how much deeper is

God’s love for us.

Really think about that.

I love a lot of people in my life. But I wouldn’t send my children to their death for others that I love. But God did.

He sent his SON to die for people that would mock him, doubt him, and sin against him. I know this is a simple, fundamental Christian concept. And it’s one that I have been aware of for all of my life. But it becomes a new concept when you start living IN that love.

So, today, I thank God for many things. At the top of that list, I am so desperately grateful for His undeserved and precious love.”

Lauren’s and my prayer is that God’s love is personal for you rather than intellectual.

Christian Communications, Inc.
www.allenrandolph.com
www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

(Lauren writes a creatively entertaining blog for young wives and Moms, Fun Times with the Covs. With practicality and humor, she shares her experiences as a wife and mother of preschoolers. She is a very bright, fun-loving, and organized, over achiever with a master’s degree from Texas A&M.)

Visit Lauren’s Website:
http://funtimeswiththecovs.blogspot.com/2015/05/but-greatest-of-these-is-love.html?m=0

Devotionals

Spiritual Discomfiture

May 20th, 2015

“Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.” Acts 8:4 NKJV.

God permits situations beyond your custom and convenience.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual discomfiture.”

“Discomfiture,” is defined as, “a feeling of unease, uncomfortableness.” At times, God will permit spiritual discomfiture to dislodge you from comfortable places for more than you could accomplish if you remained as you were or where you were. Unwanted or unexpected changes are discomfiting. Since Pentecost, the Church at Jerusalem had seen noticeable growth, and with that came a notoriety that was not so favorable. “At that time a great persecution arose against the Church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions . . therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word. Comfortable people don’t make inconvenient changes, except by necessity.

Their dispersion was involuntary, prompted by circumstances contrary to their wishes or control. What was previously comfortable for them was presently in contrast with God’s purpose. There were eternal plans of which they were not yet aware. Before His ascension, Jesus specifically instructed, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8.

Content within their current boundaries, the Jerusalem believers could not fully accomplish God’s will for the extension of the Gospel, “to the end of the earth.” And consider, this persecution and geographical disbursing of believers would ultimately result in the unparalleled conversion of the Church’s primary persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, who would become an apostle and most prolific author of the New Testament. Read Acts 9:1-6.

God was serious about His intention for those first century Christians. Apparently, God is just as serious about orchestrating your life into His purposes and plans. His promise remains sure, “The plans I have for you are plans for your good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. A future without hope is empty; hope without a future is futility. I add my Amen to David, “As for God, His way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.” Psalm 18:30 NLT.

(1) God is more invested in your eternal contribution than your current comfort. Jesus warned, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . but store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven . . for where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NIV. God will make every effort to include you in what has eternal significance and enduring fulfillment.

(2) God permits situations beyond your custom and convenience. God allowed circumstances that stretched those early disciples beyond their customary routines and into the direction of His purposes. The uncomfortable experience for those Christians was persecution. Fleeing Jerusalem for their own, and their family’s safety, they discovered unforeseen opportunities. Everywhere they went, they were preaching about Jesus.

(3) God purposes only what will be for your good, and the good of others. Closed doors can be the Lord’s protection; open doors can be the Lord’s provision. Today, persecution is not likely to be the impetus to push you or me to new horizons. More likely that may be an unexpected disruption of carefully made plans, or inexplicable discontentment that opens your heart to new possibilities, or a turn of events you had not foreseen that introduces a new and fulfilling direction.

Until discomfort where you are becomes greater than the anxiety of moving onward, you will remain where you are, doing what you’ve done. That is not at all what God wills for you, providing neither progress nor growth.

Today, I pray for you to embrace any temporary discomfort to gain an enduring satisfaction.

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Storms

May 15th, 2015

“Who is this Man that even the winds and waves obey Him?” Mark 4:41 NLT.

Life requires that you learn to safely navigate any storms.

My thoughts and comments today are about “storms.”

Life requires that you learn to safely navigate the storms you cannot avoid. On a vacation cruise with friends, Gayle and I experienced a violent storm at sea, a major hurricane off the Pacific coast of Mexico. To avoid the storm, the Captain turned from the coastline out to sea, intending to sail safely to our next port in calmer waters.

Then it happened. The hurricane had bounced off shore right into the path of our ship. There were high winds, extremely rough seas, and frightened passengers, even a few wearing their orange life vests, just in case. For a prolonged 36 hours, what the Captain had attempted to avoid, he now had to confront. Life happens like that sometimes. Some unwanted circumstances have to be confronted.

For practical reasons, I was cautiously optimistic. I believed the Captain and crew were experienced and prepared to navigate the storm. Also, I reasoned that a ship is built for success in its element, to sail safely in good and bad weather equally. Its element was the sea, not designed to be moored safely in port. And, I knew this storm was a temporary aberration of weather not a permanent condition. Convictions of truth will comfort and encourage you.

Life can be turbulent, personally and professionally. In such times, assumptions are shaken and uncertainty abounds. Days grow uncomfortable and tomorrows feel tentative. Those proclaiming “doom and gloom,” as well as those with wishful, but empty reassurances seem to drown any voice of reason and balance. Life is a storm through which you must navigate, neither a brief inconvenience nor the end of the world.

As a ship is designed and constructed to withstand stormy weather as well as gentle winds and calm seas, your faith is made for stormy weather. The disciples found themselves in a raging storm that left them fearing for their safety. “Jesus rebuked the wind and the water. Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm. Filled with awe, they said, ‘Who is this man that even the wind and waves obey Him?’” Read Mark 4:35-41 NLT. Real faith is made for times when sickness intrudes, when resources are scarce, when relationships are strained, when questions exceed answers, or when others despair. In every storm, Jesus is with you.

Similarly, Jesus warned Simon Peter of personal storms ahead, but also assured him, “I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.” Luke 22:31-32 NIV. Jesus is praying for you; you should be praying too. Prayer makes a difference in your faith, “an anchor for the soul.” Hebrews 6:17-20. It’s always time to seek God; it’s time to have faith; it’s time to trust and believe. Your faith will “weather every storm” when you pray, know and trust God’s Word, and listen for God in your heart.

Today, I pray for you to live courageously and confidently through any storm.

 

 

 

 

 

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