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Archive for April, 2018

The Secret to Success

April 27th, 2018

Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today discuss, “The secret to success.”

Someone or something must be first when you have more than one choice or consideration. Who, or what, will be the priority and first consideration in your life? That question is one that every one of us need to answer for life to work as it should. You can try to make life work on your terms, but the Bible consistently declares this eternal principle for success in life, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6 TLB.

Each day requires you to ask and answer this all-important question, “Is Jesus Lord of my life in the most practical, everyday ways?” More than any other single factor, your sincere answer determines how you will live your life, and therefore the measure of real and lasting success that you can achieve. Your truthful answer to the single question predisposes your answer to other questions that will arise during your life.

Jesus’ words teach several, simple truths. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Read Matthew 6:25-34 NIV. No success is true success until God crowns your efforts. Your best is still inadequate without God’s blessing added to it.

Whatever you achieve, and however many voices loudly acclaim and admire your resulting rewards, there is only voice that matters eternally. God’s estimation of your work is all that matters eternally. At the end of your life, only His “Well done” will be all that matters in eternity.

In this life, success requires your best efforts, consistently and long term. No halfhearted attempt, no working when you feel like it will do. You must give God something deserving of His blessing. To do that, there will be many lesser things for which you will not have time. There will be cost and sacrifice. Success cannot be bought cheaply, nor does it come easily. Most importantly, in every day and in everything, you have to, “put God first!” I learned a simple reality. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

When Abraham left all he had known to follow God to a place he did not know, he was putting God first. See Genesis 12: 1-8 NKJV. When Joseph fled from the seductress without regard to the consequences, he was putting God first. See Genesis 39:7-21 NKJV. When Moses stood before Pharaoh demanding the release of Israel, he was putting God first. See Exodus 5:1-3 NKJV.

When David placed his faith in God when facing the defiant Goliath, he was putting God first. See 1 Samuel 17:40-51 NKJV. When the three Hebrew slaves would not compromise and bow to worship the King’s image, they were putting God first. See Daniel 3:1-18 NKJV. When Daniel could not obey the King’s command, he was putting God first. See Daniel 6:3-23 NKJV. When Jesus embraced the cross to die for yours and my sins, He was putting God first. See John 12:23-28 NKJV. True to His Word, God crowned their obedience and faith with success, as He will yours.

The secret to success is found in knowing and obeying God’s Word and always doing what’s right, even when success may appear to be found in a different direction. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 NIV.

Again, I pose the question with which I began, “Who, or what, will be the priority and first consideration in your life?” The only One that can ever be first and foremost is Jesus, your Lord and Savior. Triumphantly, Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV. He reigns, and He is Lord of all!

Today I pray for you to seek the success that God alone can provide.

Christian Communications 2018-708

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Finishing Well

April 18th, 2018

Your destiny is ahead not behind you.

“Straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal 

to win the prize for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14

My thoughts and comments today are about, “finishing well.”

Life is about how well you finish, not how well you begin. In your endeavors, you will encounter challenging moments in the process of achieving successful conclusions. At the initiation of any worthwhile venture, you anticipate getting started and expect to experience profound satisfaction upon its completion. You have to continue with diligence and determination to achieve that end.

The Apostle Paul was clear. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NIV. Your destiny is ahead of you, not behind you. The problem is this. Somewhere along the way the hard work begins. Weariness and worry can become your adversary rather than friend. Midway, your will to proceed will be tested. You may feel like turning around or just quitting where you are.

Along the path, there will always be places where you feel tired and times when you feel like giving up. You can give up any time, but no time is a good time to quit. Tiredness and its resulting uncertainty rob you of success. The Bible describes people of faith and endurance, with which God is pleased to identify Himself. “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a Heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Read Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV.

I want to live so that God and others are not ashamed. At times when I feel I have made little progress and the end seems still too far away, I hear my Dad’s voice when he would encourage me, “Son, you shouldn’t start something that you don’t intend to finish.” There have been many times that his words helped me try a little harder and go a little further. The Bible says, “He who plows should plow in hope.” 1 Corinthians 9:10.   When hope wavers, the inspiring vision of accomplishment weakens.

Success awaits those who navigate life with joy and resolve. Be encouraged forward by your vision to finish well. Success is ahead for the one who who manages the less certain times and perseveres through the wearying challenges with courage and determination. Success is always harder than you thought, takes longer than you planned, but is sweeter than you hoped. Paul urges you, ”Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for you will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:9 NLT.  It is never a good time to quit doing a good thing.

Today I pray for you to never lose hope nor the vision with which you begin.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Devotionals

A Personal and Professional Update

April 12th, 2018

Thank you for the privilege of sharing EveryDay Life with you. For those of you, many of whom have been readers since the earliest beginnings of EDL in 20o7, as well as all who have journeyed with us in these recent years, Thank You!

You may have noticed an irregularity in my writing and sending EDL. At the first of 2018, the church where Gayle and I had previously served as Pastor from 1975 to 2011 asked us to again serve as a “Transitional Pastor” to provide pulpit ministry and shepherd the process of the congregation’s search and appointment of a new pastor for Trinity Church. Those responsibilities have not always allowed the writing schedule I previously enjoyed.

Thank you for your understanding and prayer for us as we walk through this important season with the church. Pray with us for the pastor God has been preparing for us. We hope this time to be brief and meanwhile I will try to write as often as time and schedule allow. In addition to the current mailings, you can always go to the EDL website and read previous devotionals in the library of EDL from recent years.

Again, thank you for your prayers, patience, and partnership. I look forward to again enjoying the added leisure for writing EDL in the near future.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

allenrandolph.com

 

 

 

Devotionals

Rules and Standards

April 12th, 2018

God’s wisdom is the path to His richest blessings.

 “[God’s] discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace

for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “rules and standards.”

Life is better with rules. Rules are essential, establishing boundaries and measuring achievement. Yet, very few of us appreciate rules in the way we should. People seem to bristle when too many rules seem restrictive and imposed. We all tend to resist when we feel less free to do as we want to do. Consider this. Without rules, athletic competition would be havoc. That’s why there are rules and referees, grades and graduation requirements, right and wrong, rewards and penalties.

I can’t imagine a world without rules. With no rules of the road, driving would be dangerous. In daily interactions, the bold would overpower the timid. The strong would take advantage of the weak. The wealthy would neglect the poor. For a clear reason, the Ten Commandments were not called the, “Ten Recommendations.” Nor were they meant to be. Out of His love for you, not His love for law, God commanded those rules to live by.

Marriages are best with mutually understood rules. Families need clearly stated rules. Friendships succeed with mutually accepted rules. Employers and employees require agreement on rules. Individuals need to establish standards by which they are willing to be evaluated. I am grateful that my Dad believed in rules. Admittedly, I didn’t appreciate those as much while a teen. But Dad’s rules were always clear and fair – and enforced or rewarded. They made me wiser and better than I would otherwise have been. Rules establish safe boundaries for your benefit, not to limit or restrict you, except for your guidance and protection. Rules can protect and keep you safe. Maybe it would help to think of standards rather than rules. I see three occasions for rules and standards.

You need people in your life who help you learn and establish Godly standards. That is the value of parents, teachers, friends, civil and governmental authorities, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit. They establish rules that benefit all. The Bible reminds us that, “The authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” Read Romans 13.3-6 NIV. Respect rules, embrace appropriate boundaries, and appreciate their practical need for making your life better, measuring your achievements, rewarding your efforts, and keeping you safer.

The rule of law protects the lawful and restrains the lawless. “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 NKJV. In your life, whose opinion and counsel offer you trusted guidance, Godly wisdom, and a spiritual haven in uncertain times?

True liberty is not without restraints, and never without limits. I had a fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cook, who taught our class a simple principle about boundaries and liberties, “Your liberty to swing your fist without restraint ends at the tip of another’s nose.” What a great rule for fourth graders, as well as kids, teens, and adults of all ages. Friends and family help set standards of behavior for one another. Often it is more kind than cruel to say no. Choose wisely the bounds you will honor, and associate with friends who respect them, and thereby respect you.

At all times, you must require and embrace boundaries for yourself. The best decisions you make were made before any situation needing rules presented itself. The right decision is never too late, but it’s best when made early. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. Everything is permissible, but not everything is edifying.” I Corinthians 10:23 NAS. Choose what is profitable, in order to edify others and glorify God. God’s Word marks the places where you will find your greatest liberties, and where you and others find safety.

When I was first preparing for ministry, my Dad taught me a very practical and valuable lesson about establishing non-negotiable, personal boundaries, for success in pastoral ministry. My Dad’s advice was invaluable, “Many who look to you for leadership will likely exceed the liberties you permit yourself; so be wise and measured in all you allow yourself to say and do. And others who follow you may stop short of your disciplines, so be careful, always seeking to excel.”

There will always be others observing and following you. Jesus was clear, “I have set before you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NIV. You are always safe when following Jesus’ example. Paul was clear as well with his instruction to young Timothy. ”Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV. Be sure that the rules you expect others to observe are a priority in your own life and relational interactions.

Even when you do not think so, someone is always following you, Many years ago, a man made this observation of me, “Pastor, you are not hard to follow because you do not make sudden turns.” I am not sure whether he meant that as a compliment, but I accepted it as one. I want to be easy to follow for my family and for those who trust my leadership. My objective is simple. I want my family and friends to know what my values are, where I am going, Who I am following, and how to get where God is leading.

“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, [His] discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11 NIV. I like that. In your life, His rules produce a, “harvest of righteousness and peace,” for those who accept and follow the Father’s instruction and disciplines. Anything that God requires of you is for your benefit, not His. Embracing God’s wisdom is the path to His richest blessings.

Today I pray for you to establish Godly standards. His rules are given to protect, not confine you.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Good Ideas Are Not Good Enough

April 9th, 2018

Good ideas are no substitute for God’s ideas.

My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are that,

“good ideas are not good enough.”

Everyone makes mistakes. The key is to stop repeating the same ones. I have made my share of mistakes, and that’s probably just as true of others. Some mistakes I never recognized at the time. Probably there are still some I have not yet recognized to be mistakes. Some, I wished would just go away on their own. Some, I hoped no one would need to know about. And some, I tried to make up for in better ways. Thankfully, there are also those that I dealt with, and from which I learned. Mistakes can have a long shelf-life if not dealt with early and honestly. Mistakes, ignored and not dealt with, become more than they began. Repentance and confession is the proper way you do so.

My dearest of friends, Campbell, said, “Sin can only leave a person’s life one way, through one’s mouth, in honest confession of the wrong done.” There is good news. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV.

All mistakes are not sins – many are accidental, not willful. Others result from poor judgment, inadequate knowledge, or lack of experience. But every sin is certainly a mistake. Being truly free of them requires dealing with your mistake honestly and humbly. In confession and repentance, you can rectify sins before God, and with humility and apology correct mistakes with others. The Psalmist reminds us, “For [our Creator] knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14 NKJV.

Paul references an Old Testament story about Hagar and her son, Ishmael, a mistake that Abraham and Sarah made when their impatience became unbelief and disobedience about God’s promise of a son. Read Genesis 16:1-15. When Sarah was unable to provide a son, she proposed that her maidservant, Hagar, could be her surrogate. Abraham and Sarah wrongly assumed that her barrenness hindered God from fulfilling His promise. The child was named Ishmael. Ishmael was a terrible mistake. Sarah soon recognized and regretted her mistake, but too late to avoid or correct it.

God’s solution was clear and simple, but seems harsh though we know it was not. “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” Galatians 4:30 NKJV. The future required that Abrham and Sarah separate themselves from their disobedience, however well intended they meant it to be. Your good ideas are never an acceptable substitute for God’s idea. And your ideas are not always as good as you think they are at the moment.

At first, Abraham pleaded with God to accept Ishmael as the promised son and heir, but God’s plan was for Isaac, not Ishmael. Read Genesis 15:1-6 NKJV. Don’t waste your time trying to convince God that your mistake isn’t such a bad idea. God is clear, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts [higher] than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV. God’s solution was clear and direct, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” Galatians 4:30 NKJV. That was not punishment. That was God’s protection and provision for their future, and ours.

The Bible references dead works which can be anything born of your fleshly plans and desires, but not obedient to God’s instructions or dependent on God’s Spirit. The Bible contrasts, “repentance from dead works, and faith toward God,” when differentiating between immaturity and spiritual maturity. Read Hebrews 5:12-6:3 NKJV. I would describe a dead work as anything that God does not originate or will not sustain. What God did not originate, God will not bless. No matter how much you ask that He will, He can’t. Ishmael was a dead work, their bad idea that excluded faith toward God.

I learned that lesson some years ago. My “dead work” was a car I bought simply because I could, and I wanted to do so. I didn’t need it. I didn’t pray about it. I didn’t trust God to provide it. I just bought it. Very soon, my heart told me that I had made a mistake that God did not view lightly. Conviction of the Holy Spirit was very real. In my spirit, I felt that I had grieved the Holy Spirit by my casualness and carelessness. In my decision, there was no thought of prayer nor any consideration that my financial ability was the result of God’s provision and not my own to do with as I pleased.

I learned a valuable lesson. I learned the Biblical distinction between stewardship and ownership. We are not owners of what God gives. We are mere stewards. The Bible says, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:3 NKJV. I choose to be a good steward.

I violated a basic principle of stewardship. God is the Owner of all. We are to be His obedient stewards. When I recognized and confessed my mistake as ungodly disregard and asked God’s forgiveness, only then did I find peace of mind and heart again. It is painful to cast away what your flesh craves or creates, until your love for God is superceding – a love even more than your desire for what you want, lest you hold tightly hold such things to your harm, or the harm of others.

Today I pray for you to avoid any mistake that you identify as even questionable.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Devotionals