Stress and Distress

October 31st, 2017

When Life is not easy God’s grace is sufficient

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“stress and distress.”

You and I live in a world of unceasing and increasing stress. Stress is harmful. Stress does a lot of things, none of which are helpful. Stress accelerates your heart rate, increases blood pressure, manufactures anxiety, creates mental and emotional exhaustion, steals peace of mind, and destroys health. Stress is from the emotions you feel when the pressure seems overpowering. Hurry and worry result.

The eventual consequence is distress. Naturally, everyone would prefer no problems. No worries. No uncertainties. But no troubles equal no growth and result in little or no faith. Written years earlier, these lyrics provide a faith perspective about problems, “If I never had a problem, how would I know that God could solve them; I’d never know what faith in God can do. But through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus; I’ve learned to trust in God. I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” (Through It All, Andrae Crouch).

The Psalmist, David wrote, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT. God’s Word and truth is where you find wisdom. Don’t wish your problems away. Learn from them. Learning brings enlargement. The truth you learn by personal experience is truth that you will not soon forget. Life is better when you experience truth firsthand rather than trusting secondhand opinions from others.

Whenever David experienced distress, he also discovered something more about his God. God was there and His love did not wane, nor were His grace and power diminished. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as, “distress,” describes, “pressure or narrowness of room.” Trouble narrows your view, appearing to lessen your options and exaggerating your distress.

The Psalmist cried out to God, “When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, You gave me room; now I’m in trouble again. Grace me! Hear me!” Psalm 4:1 MSG. A more current expression would be this, “between a rock and a hard place.” Today, we call that stress. You won’t find rest and understanding until you turn to God. Why does it take us so long before we look to the only One who is all-knowing and always has sufficient grace and power?

Could there be times that God does not quickly deliver you from your distressing situation but allows circumstances to grow increasingly uncomfortable and confining until you will look to Him, and listen to Him, and embrace and obey His good will? “Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:1 NLT.

Even when in distressing times or circumstances, be confident. God can enlarge you in your distress. “God, You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1 AMP. His grace can give you needed relief, providing room to breathe and believe again. His power can push back the realities that press too tightly upon you, allowing you room to recover and regroup.

Life is not fair, but God is eternally loving and just. When life is not fair, God is righteous.  God promises, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV. When life is not easy, God’s grace is sufficient. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to call on God in your distress and lean on Him in your weakness.

Christian Communications 2017-0707

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Success with Satisfaction

October 27th, 2017

Satisfaction is measured by accomplishment not reward.

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

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Success with Satisfaction.”

God created you to succeed. And that should be your goal. A desire to succeed is common to the human heart. No one makes plans to fail but many fail to plan. But first, you need to know how you define success? Without that, how do you even measure success? It is important that you determine your personal definition of success and that should be founded on God’s Word. If you don’t have benchmarks for measuring achievement, how will you know when you accomplish it, or recognize when you fail to do so? It is tragic to allow other people’s opinions to dictate what true success should be for you.

You will invest a lifetime of effort and energy to achieve fulfillment and meaning. A good  question to ask yourself is, “When I get where I’m going and have what I’m wanting, where will I be and what will I have?” Too many people end up with full pockets but have an empty heart. Solomon offered sage advice, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV. Success with satisfaction begins in your heart.

Will wealth and possessions be your proof of success? The applause or acclaim of others? Some time ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said. “At the end, the one with the most toys wins!” But do they? True success must be so much more than having the biggest pile of unnecessary stuff. God’s Word says, “Each one should be careful how he builds. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is. The fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV. Eternal values differ immensely from what the world values.

I think that satisfaction, and contentment with what you achieve, is a more reliable measurement of success than the weight of public opinion or the tangible and external rewards of one’s accomplishments. Success without satisfaction is a myth. Where you find your supreme fulfillment is where you will find your greater success.

“[Blessed is the man who is] like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Read Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. What a great promise! For me, the arenas where I intend to succeed, find satisfaction, and most prize any success are in the opportunities and responsibilities of family, friends, and ministry.

As regards Family, I will evaluate success by the Godly fruit to be found in our children and grandchildren, and the generations who will follow them. I will measure the faith and values we hold in common, the times we love and enjoy one another’s company, and our family’s continued love and service for the Lord. However anyone else chooses to evaluate my success, our family is central to my definition of success or disappointment.

As regards friends, life is richer because of the example, encouragement, and fellowship of friends who share life and faith with you. Life can be lonely, even unfulfilling without people who gladly share your joys and sorrows.

As regards ministry, I choose to evaluate success based on obedience and faithfulness to God’s call and meaningful service to God’s people. I am grateful for whatever measure of outward success that we have experienced these fifty plus years of pastoral ministry, but in my heart, I know that whatever success might be attributed to us, God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been its true source.

So, I will thank God, my family, and friends, and celebrate every year of blessing and privilege extended to us. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Read Galatians 6:8-10 NIV. My prayer for you encompasses all you are and all you do.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. It all starts in in your heart of hearts where, “your soul prospers.”

Today, I pray for you to not waste time on empty dreams but instead pursue God’s will.

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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The Potential in Seeds and Harvests

October 24th, 2017

I am sending an edited version of EDL from my comments that were sent earlier today. The latter half was rewritten with a different accent and application that better captures what I felt the Lord was speaking to my heart. Today you get two for one!

———- 0000 ———

“A planted seed initiates a cycle of supply.”

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, will never cease.” Genesis 8:22 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Potential in Seeds and Harvests.”

No good thing that is said or done is inconsequential. Things that may appear small at first are not always as small as they seem. A simple, small seed can hold a world of potential. Jesus taught that, “[The Kingdom of Heaven] is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Mark 4:31-32 NKJV. God places high value on small things when they are the right things.

Every enterprise begins small, appearing insignificant at its early stages, except to those who see potential others do not see. Small things have vast potential. They should not be disparaged. The Bible cautions, “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10 NLT. And Jesus noted that, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10 NIV. Faithfulness is learned in small things and responsibility grows in proportion to reliability.

Little things are not necessarily little in value. By that I mean, some little things have amazing potential and could produce big results. For instance, a small seed holds disproportionate potential; a small idea can produce a profitable business; a small kindness can begin a long friendship; a wise word can change a life’s direction. “Now may He Who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NKJV.

This morning, a thought was quickened to my spirit. A planted seed initiates a cycle of supply. God made an irrevocable promise, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22 NIV. In every seed God places a promised harvest. Then every harvest produces abundant seeds that promise even more future harvests. And that cycle of God’s provision continues – seeds producing harvest and harvests producing seeds which will in turn produce continuing harvests.

This repeating cycle of reproduction was designed by God at Creation. “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:11 NIV. From our origin, God provided trees bearing fruit with seeds in it.” With God, it is never, “one and done.” All of His benevolent return results from your simple action of planting seeds and harvesting their results. Solomon wisely advised, “In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NKJV.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

When you choose the nature and measure of the seeds you will sow, you determine the quantity of your future harvests and the quality of your future seeds. Are you planting seeds today for your future and harvesting the seeds required for the harvests that follow? The Bible also says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”  Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV. “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Read Galatians 6:7-10 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to celebrate the great and Godly potential in yourself and others.

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Potential and Possibilities

October 24th, 2017

“Small things can have vast potential.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which is smaller than all the seeds on earth.” Mark 4:31 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Potential and Possibilities.”

No good thing that is said or done is inconsequential. Things that may appear small at first are not always as small as they seem. A simple, small seed can hold a world of potential. Jesus taught that, “[The Kingdom of Heaven] is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.” Mark 4:31-32 NKJV. God places high value on small things when they are the right things.

Every enterprise begins small, appearing insignificant at its early stages, except to those who see potential others do not see. Small things can have vast potential. They should not be disparaged. The Bible cautions, “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10 NLT. And Jesus noted that, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10 NIV. Faithfulness is learned in small things and responsibilities grow in proportion to reliability.

Little things are not necessarily little in value. By that I mean, some little things have amazing potential and could produce big results. For instance, a small seed holds disproportionate potential; a small idea can produce a profitable business; a small kindness can begin a long friendship; a wise word can change a life’s direction. “Now may He Who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NKJV.

But also, I must warn that little things can also have big, unwanted, and unintended repercussions as well. While describing the effect of a small bit in a powerful horse’s mouth and a small rudder to turn a large ship, the Bible warns that, “Even so the tongue is a little member that boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles . . and the tongue . . defiles the whole body.” Read James 3:2-12 NKJVWords mean something. Words can heal; words can harm. They hold vast potential, both for the person who speaks them as well as those who hear them. An ill-advised word can disparage ideas, diminish incentive, or destroy hope.

Solomon addressed this negative potential with the image of a vineyard, “Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV. The vine is where growth and fruit are to be found; those represent your future possibility and productivity. Solomon knew that small things could cause great damage. Such causes are often unnoticed until after irreparable damage has been done. Most of us are not undone by big things. Those are more easily recognized and readily avoided. Small things are often our undoing: such as the road not taken, the opportunity overlooked, the omission unrecognized, the little temptation embraced, or lesser failure indulged.

The Bible says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27 NKJV. A special moments can be spoiled by inaction – an achievement not celebrated, an anniversary forgotten, a thank you unspoken, a kindness unappreciated, a person’s efforts not valued, and many other similar opportunities for good that are just overlooked. Such things happen every day. Small things as simple as one’s countenance, tone of voice, body language, attitude, or mere words can assist or resist progress, build or dampen enthusiasm, and develop or disparage an idea. Protect the vines; secure the fruit of blessing; determine to use whatever you have to bless others positively.

Today, I pray for you to celebrate the great and Godly potential in yourself and others.

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Expecting His Return

October 20th, 2017

Casualness about spiritual life results in carelessness.  

 “What manner of persons ought you to be in Holy conduct and Godliness.” 2 Peter 3:11 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “expecting His return.”

I titled my previous devotional, “The Imminent Return of Christ.” This significant Biblical theme warrants additional comment. The Bible is clear. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NIV.

The distracting busyness of life can diminish spiritual life now and eternal life forever. Peter predicted that, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV. Because Jesus has not yet come does not mean that He will not come. He will comes as He said. It is wise to be ready.

Predictably, there are two negative results to any diminished expectation of Jesus’ imminent return. Any lack of urgency or preparedness for Jesus’ return results in, (1) a carelessness about your own spiritual life, and (2) a casualness about your personal Christian witness. Writing those words stirs emotions in me that need stirring. Either, or both of those failings are destructive to spiritual life and tragic for those within your reach who are lost in their sins.

An enticement and affection for the present world will leave you unprepared for a final event that will catch most of the world unprepared. Jesus accurately described the futile mindset of those oblivious and unprepared for His return. Read Matthew 24:37-44 NKJV. Sad to say, we have allowed ourselves, and permitted those in our circle of family and friends, to become content with our pleasant lives here, with little longing for Jesus’ return. Maybe our lives have become a bit too comfortable and contented because we enjoy prosperity and ease well beyond anything our grandparents could have imagined.

A diminished desire for Heaven results in a deficiency of burden for those lost without Christ. Where would you be if no one had cared enough to tell you about Jesus and the redeeming power of His forgiveness? Someone’s eternal future may well depend on your love, witness, and prayer. In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal son, He did not describe the wandering son as, “relocated.” Nor did Jesus reference the sheep as, “misplaced,” nor the coin as, “absent.” They were lost with no remedy for their lostness, except for the passion and persistence of the efforts of someone beyond themselves who cared more about them than they could know or care about themselves. You and I are to be God’s voice in our family, friendships, and daily associations.

The Bible has much to say about the imminent return of Jesus. Common to those references is a warning, “Concerning the times and the seasons . .  you know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes like a thief in the night.” Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NKJV. That phrase, “like a thief in the night,” is a repeated description of the imminent return of our Savior and Lord. “I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for Me, who keep their robes ready so they will not need to walk naked and ashamed.” Revelation 16:15 NLT. A thief is unexpected and usually finds you unprepared. Jesus’ coming will not be expected and many will be unprepared.

In light of His coming, consider how you should live your life. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and Godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” Read 2 Peter 3:3-18 NKJV. The Bible concludes with these words, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20-21 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to live with preparedness, evidencing a passion for others to know Him.

Christian Communications 2017

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