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Archive for February, 2016

A Place for You

February 27th, 2016

A place for you Puzzle

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High abides under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek.

My thoughts and comments are about, “a place for you.”

Too many people spend a lot of life looking for the right place. Some eventually succeed; many never find that place however long and hard they have looked. They never find the friends they wanted, the marriage they assumed would be theirs, the city they love, or the job for which they dreamed. If you look for the wrong things, you invest a lot of time and energy on a fool’s errand. Some look for right things but in wrong places.

My friend, Dick, describes the Gospel this way, “Jesus left His place, to come to your place, to take your place, to take you to His place.” To His worried disciples Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there shall you be also.” John 14:2-3 NKJV. God’s plan has not changed; God has a place prepared for His people, and that begins here and now as well. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV.

Here’s some special things about that sacred, secret place in God. There you will find, “a large place [of deliverance]” Psalm 18:19 KJV, “a hiding place” Psalm 32:7 NIV, “a place [of abundance]” Psalm 66:12 NIV, “a broad place [without fear]” Psalm 118:5-6 NKJV, “a place [of one accord]” Acts 2:1 NKJV, and “a place of inheritance” Hebrews 11:8 NIV. Is there any better place? Find the place God has just for you. He knows the spouse to complement you, the friends you need, the job you’ll love, and where you will find the greatest joy and fulfillment. Before God created Adam, He prepared a wonderful, perfect place for him, a garden of beauty and plenty. Read Genesis 2:8-17 NKJV. He would not do less for you.

If you know all that is good that is in God’s place for you, why would you look for sustenance and satisfaction elsewhere? Sin may at first appear appealing, but it brings only temporary happiness. I have observed some consequences about sin. Sin costs you more than you expected to pay, takes you further than you meant to go, keeps you longer than you planned to stay, and leaves you where you never expected to be. That is not where you find life more abundantly. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV.

In God you find everything for which you seek. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would leave with the crowd, Peter got it right, “Too whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 NIV. Find your place in God’s grace, will, and purpose, and be settled there with unwavering confidence, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” Genesis 28:16 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to abide where grace and goodness abounds.

Christian Communications 2016-9217
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Betrayal

February 24th, 2016

“I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Hurting people hurt others.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “betrayal.”

Betrayal is a harsh word but not a new occurrence. Everyone has felt the sting of misunderstanding, misjudgment, or unfair treatment. The experience is as old and common as time itself. Feelings of betrayal necessitate a relationship that holds positive expectations. Betrayal feels personal and usually is. David felt the sting of personal betrayal – from Saul, his king; Absalom, his son; and Ahithophel, his trusted friend and adviser. “Even my close friend (Ahithophel), whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9 NIV. David understood his own frailties and failures and forgave others as he had been forgiven. (As an interesting and relevant side note, scholars believe Ahithophel to be the father of Eliam and grandfather of Bathsheba. Might that grandfather’s disloyalty relate to David’s behavior with Bathsheba?) Betrayal of others breeds betrayal toward oneself.

Strangers or enemies cannot betray you; your expectations of the first are minimal, of the latter their unkindness is assumed. Friends and family hold unique power to inflict emotional pain. To one degree or another, friction happens in homes, at work, and even in churches. Sadly, it happens in marriages, families, and with friends or mere acquaintances. Hurting people hurt others. Knowingly or unknowingly, fallen people living in a fallen world inflict their hurts and unhappiness upon the lives of those around them. It’s usually about themselves, not the other person. Their pain causes their words and actions. It splashes out on whoever happens by.

Emotions of betrayal come in all forms and sizes, from annoyance to distress. Something as small as an unintended slight or something as large as intentional slander can both create feelings of betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus. Matthew 27:3-5. Peter denied Jesus. Matthew 26:75. Thomas doubted Jesus. John 20:25. The disciples abandoned Jesus. Matthew 26:56. The crowds left Jesus. John 6:66-69. In differing measures, Jesus was betrayed and felt its pain, yet offered forgiveness and restoration of fellowship to each. Imagine Paul’s personal disappointment and pain as he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. But God’s Word provides this assurance, “We have [a High Priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV. Jesus heals all hurts.

Betrayal is a word or action that causes emotional pain, eliciting strong reactions in return. It can be an action toward you as well as a reaction to you. As a teen, when I tried to justify hurting someone who had hurt me, my Dad would remind me, “Two wrongs never make a right.” Imperfect grammar, but he was right, of course. Obviously, there are two questions you are wise to consider. Felt betrayed by someone? Forgive, surrendering your pain to Jesus. Betrayed another’s confidence in you? Consider their pain.

When you have been betrayed, forgive. There is no better choice. Forgiving is for your benefit as much as theirs. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Read Colossians 3:13-14 NIV. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Read Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

When you have betrayed, ask to be forgiven. There alone you find redemption. Read Matthew 5:23-24 NIV. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Read Ephesians 1:7-8 NKJV. Read Romans 4:7-8 NIV. God’s promise is true, “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to always trust the faithfulness of God to heal and forgive.

EDL broken trust

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016
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Asking God’s Help

February 20th, 2016

 

“With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NKJV.

Ask for what will most give God pleasure to provide.

My thoughts today are about, “asking God’s help.”

Asking seems such a simple thing; yet people often seem reluctant to ask for assistance. We prefer the illusion of self-sufficiency. Maybe we think our own efforts – experience, abilities, and resources – should be adequate. I am not sure if it is being too proud to ask or if it is a misguided insistence on self-reliance, trying to take care of ourselves before we “bother God” with our needs. God is never bothered by sincere requests for His help. “He who comes to God must believe . . that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV.

It is foolish to presume that God can’t provide your needs, or worse yet, that He won’t. Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11-12 NIV. Love chooses the practical expression of generosity. Giving finds its greatest joy in providing what is needed, or even most desired. Let God be your first resource rather than your last. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Your Heavenly Father is saddened when you fail to ask Him for what you lack and need. James, the brother of Jesus, framed the problem with words of both counsel and caution. “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:3 NLT. James saw the problem of unanswered prayer as either failure to ask or selfish motives; both are easy to correct. Ask for what you believe will most give God pleasure to provide.

Speaking of common, everyday concerns, Jesus said, “These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Luke 12:30-31 NLT. He expects only the simplest thing of you. All you have to do is ask, “anything according to His will . . and you know you will have what you asked.” 1 John 5:14-15.

Do not be hesitant to ask, but trust His sovereignty and goodness, and then rest content. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to feel free to ask, confident to trust, and grateful to receive.

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Holy and Unholy Appetites

February 17th, 2016

 Bread-of-Life

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Matthew 5:6 NIV.

Appetite is a natural response of the body and soul to a need for nourishment.

My thoughts today are about, “holy and unholy appetites.”

It all began in Eden’s garden. Read Genesis 1:11-12 and 2:15-17 NIV. In Eden, God provided abundant supply for Adam’s nourishment, but within clearly stated boundaries. Then sin disputed and desecrated the holy and it all went awry. Read Genesis 3:1-6 NIV. “When she saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, and pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it and gave some to her husband.” We all know how that turned out.

For your further study, I find an intriguing similarity with this unholy trinity of Eve’s temptation, and the Devil’s three temptations of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV), and John’s three-fold warning to Christ-followers to be vigilant (1 John 2:15-17 NIV). John observed, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

An appetite is a good and natural thing. “A laborer’s appetite makes him work harder, because he wants to satisfy his hunger.” Proverbs 16:26 TEV. Whereas, an unnatural lack or loss of appetite usually signals an unhealthy condition. Appetite is a natural response of the body and soul to its need for proper nourishment. People try to satisfy their appetites in either healthy or unhealthy ways. Be wise; the world tries to influence and dictate your taste and pleasures. Read 1 John 2:15 MSG. Unhealthy ways may work temporarily but also unsatisfactorily.

Similarly, God created you with spiritual appetites, which people try to satisfy in holy or unholy ways. Unholy ways are always unfulfilling. The prophet, Haggai, said, “Give careful thought to your ways. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill.” Read Haggai 1:5-6 NIV. As your body has natural appetites of hunger and thirst for food and drink that nourishes and satisfies, so does your soul.

As your body depends for its nourishment, health, and strength from the earth, so must your soul rely upon Heaven. Heavenly things do not nourish the body; they are not suited to its nature. Equally so, earthly things cannot nourish the soul for the same reason. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 NIV. The Word of God satisfies the soul.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. I like Today’s English Version, a contemporary translation, “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” Taste and desire are learned. The psalmist David encouraged, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8 NKJV. After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish to satisfy the hunger of a multitude of thousands, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NIV. With Jesus, satisfaction is guaranteed. Read Isaiah 55:1-2 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to nurture appetites that honor God and draw you closer to Him.

Christian Communications 2016
Website and archives: www.allenrandolph.com
www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Devotionals

Prosperity and Adversity

February 12th, 2016

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “prosperity and adversity.”

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son.”
“If” – Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

When I was a young teen, I questioned my Dad, a pastor, about a young husband and father I had admired in our congregation. He had such a heart for God and an expressed interest in ministry. He was personable, eloquent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and diligent. His natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry, until he experienced rapid and unexpected success in his construction business.

As he prospered, his plans adjusted as his interests, time, and attention shifted. I well remember his words, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” The first part of his goal was met and exceeded; the latter intention was neither attempted nor realized. My Dad’s response to my disappointment was specific, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s words. Adversity is difficult; prosperity can be deceptive. Be careful, riches will be deceitful. In His masterful and practical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and [a man] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. Both prosperity and adversity have unique hazards. In the best of times, you may easily forget your need of God’s daily provision; in the worst of times, you can incorrectly assume God will not meet your needs.

Uzziah was a young king of Judah who enjoyed great success during his fifty-two year reign. He beautified and fortified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. He was feared and respected by surrounding nations. His land was fruitful and his people prosperous. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV.

Ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped [by God] until he was strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 NKJV. Prosperity without humility and gratitude is destructive.

Far from the prideful height of acclaim, success, and sufficiency, Uzziah died a leper under the judgement of God, ostracized from others. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

Here is the simple truth Solomon understood, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV. The Apostle Paul gave invaluable advice, “Everywhere and in all things, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV. 

Today, I pray for you to “prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

Christian Communications 2016
Website and archives: www.allenrandolph.com
www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

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