Of God and Governments

July 4th, 2017

A preface to my EDL comments today My devotional thoughts today were first shared in July 2009, yet those comments remain relevant on this anniversary of our nation’s founding. I understand that EDL is read in many nations of the world and my comments on this occasion particularly reference our national celebration of our nation’s origin, but I believe that the Word of God remains relevant and applicable to one and all. Our histories are different, but our hopes and aspirations for the safety and well-being of ourselves, families, and nation are things of common concern for people everywhere.

There is so much upheaval – religious, financial, social, and political – in our world today that it seems advisable to consider anew this matter of, “God and Governments.” Peace must begin in the human heart before it will ever lastingly be experienced in our national lives. It is increasingly imperative that we look to God more than governments. “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all Godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV. Blessings, Allen Randolph.


Above pride of nation, be loyal as a servant of the Lord Jesus.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are, “Of God and Governments.”

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday and religious heritage, it seems an appropriate time to consider present world realities. You cannot listen to even a little of the news without wondering and worrying about the things happening around the globe. And what is happening?

Global politics, accusations and threats from world leaders, heads of governments strutting across the world stage with boast and bravado, bitter political and religious differences, growing terrorism and brutal violence, ideological alliances and fearful attempts to balance military powers, international rivalries and jealousies, lust for power with the threat of nuclear and biological weapons, apparent impotence of most treaties, truces, and international sanctions, as well as angry, military hostilities in too many diverse locations all combine to create concern for today and uncertainty for the days ahead. See Matthew 24:3-14 NIV.

Can governments provide the remedy? Conflicting voices and partisan opinions tell you the solution to all of this is your vote for their candidate or political party, promising you greater security and prosperity for yourself and family. Isn’t that what every citizen wants, whatever their nationality, language, religion, economy, or governmental system? But has that ever worked yet?

Where is God in all of this? Here’s what the Bible says. “He made from one man every nation . . having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” Acts 17:26-27. Ultimately, political summits do not shape the geography of nations. Nor do political leaders alone determine the future of nations. God does that. Your informed voice and vote in the political process is important. Yet, your faith in God and fervent prayer is more consequential and powerful and more far reaching to influence the fate of nations. ”Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people . . The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Proverbs 14:34 NIV/James 5:16 NIV. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV.

God caused Israel’s oppressors to fund their exodus from captivity with Moses. Exodus 3:21. Generations later, God opened the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to return Israel’s captives to Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1. In more recent history, was it the world’s nations that carved out territory and national boundaries in 1948, again returning the Jewish people to their homeland? Or was that the hand of God, and His promise from centuries before? Job confidently declared, “God makes nations great, and He destroys them; He enlarges nations, and disperses them.” Job 12:23-25 NIV. Read Psalm 33:8-22 NIV.

“Are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?” 2 Chronicles 20:6 NAS. Here is the sum of this matter of security and prosperity in this day and world. “I will lie down and sleep in peace; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 NIV. To every generation, God promised, “For unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder . . of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . the passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9: 6-7 NKJV. Is it God or governments? I place my trust in God. See Philippians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that above pride of nation, you are loyal as a servant of Jesus Christ.

Christian Communications 2017

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

 

Contradictions and Inconsistencies

June 30th, 2017

Never allow your life to contradict your values

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” Romans 7:19 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,Contradictions and Inconsistencies.”

Keep your convictions clear and your contradictions few. “To thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare. Musically, the effect of incongruity is dissonance. Relationally, the result is discord. Spiritually, the consequence is disunity. When behavior contradicts professed belief, your integrity and reputation are diminished. From my Dad I learned, “A man is only as good as his word.” James, the brother of Jesus, made it simple and clear. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” James 5:12 NIV. James’ instruction is about far more than vocabulary. James’ words are about living with clarity, consistency, and integrity. Always do more than you promise, never less. Be true. Be real. Be consistent.

Never allow your life to contradict your values. As a young minister, I was challenged by a probing question that Jesus asked. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46 NIV. That is a glaring inconsistency to which all of us have to plead guilty on occasion. Jesus then told a story contrasting a man who built his house on solid rock and another who was content to build his house on shifting sand. Which do you think succeeded? Read Luke 6:47-49 NIV. Whatever its momentary circumstance, the safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will. Your future rests securely on that which will neither change nor fail – the Word and will of God.

Jesus told another story about two sons. One promised something to his father, but never did what he said. His action was inconsistent with his words. The other at first refused but later complied. Read Matthew 21:28-31 NIV. Which did the will of his father? Perform above your promise; God does.

Paul identified our common dilemma but also pointed us to the only One who gives us success and victory. “I do not understand what I do . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is [a sin nature] living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me . .  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Then, Paul shares the only answer to his victory and ours. “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Read Romans 7:15-25 NIV.

James wrote of this same spiritual/carnal contradiction, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3:9-11 NIV. The inconsistency is consistent! “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Read Luke 6:43-45 NIV.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. That is achieved only by allowing the Word of God to dwell within you. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16 NIV. If God is Sovereign – and He is – His Word is absolute and His will is final. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 NIV. My desire and intent is to never allow my life or words to contradict the faith I profess and the Word of God I preach.

Today, I pray for you to walk before God and man with integrity and authenticity.

 

Christian Communications 2017

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Joy in His Presence

June 27th, 2017

Experiencing God is your highest and holiest privilege

“You will fill me with joy in Your presence.” Psalm

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Joy In His Presence.”

In the Seventeenth century, Nicholas Herman (1605-1691), an obscure monk and a lay brother of a Carmelite priory, worked in a monastery kitchen in France. He was better known as Brother Lawrence. After his death, a small collection of his letters and conversations were gathered, and later compiled into a small book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Ultimately, his book became one of the most widely read books.

Brother Lawrence used his tedious, mundane responsibilities and relative obscurity to afford himself occasion for a lifetime of what he described as, “a habitual, silent, secret conversation of the soul with God  . . to live as if there were none but He and I in the world.” Whether scrubbing pots or serving dishes he used every moment and simple act of service as an expression of intimate worship and communion with God. Across centuries, the lives of innumerable readers have been shaped by this simple monk’s holy practice of God’s presence, the practical truth of his book also impacting my life and later ministry. 

I want to tell you how and where my story intersects with his. After our first few years of ministry in Illinois, Gayle and I returned to California to finish my senior year of Bible College while I also served on the pastoral staff of a church there. Across the mountains from San Jose, I was attending college classes in Santa Cruz each morning. Driving the narrow, winding, mountain highway early each morning and then back at Noon to be at the church office, the daily, thirty minute commute became monotonous. On a Spring morning toward the latter part of that year, I had an unusual and life-impacting encounter with God.

Before leaving the drive of our apartment one morning, I prayed, ”Lord, be with me today . .” Interrupted before I could say anything further, I felt the Lord speak to my heart as though it were audible, “I have been with you every morning; you just haven’t noticed.” I sat in my car, stunned and quietly weeping for my spiritual insensitivity. In tears, I asked forgiveness and pledged myself to value His abiding presence always.

I felt as Jacob must have felt when he said, “’Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of Heaven.’” Genesis 28:16-17 NIV. The ordinary busyness of life easily distracts us from a tender fellowship with God. Then I did something that would have seemed strange if any neighbors were looking on. I walked around to the passenger side of my car, opened the door, and verbally welcomed Jesus to be with me.

I cannot describe the sheer joy of that morning’s commute, as well as each morning that followed. Each subsequent morning before beginning my commute, I would again walk to the passenger side of my car, open the door, and consciously, even verbally, invite Jesus to be alongside me. That car became my daily place of prayer and worship. I do not recall a season of my life when I have known the joyous fellowship of the Lord more. I felt as David did as he wrote, “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 NIV. Nowhere will you find joy as is found in His presence.

I urge you to read his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, as a valued, spiritual  discipline. You will be the richer for it. David was deliberate in his purpose, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 NIV. Though Jesus is ever with us, the heart-shaping intimacy of His nearness is reserved for those who invite Him into even the most common activities of daily life.

Experiencing God is your highest and holiest privilege. Never treat that privilege as common nor to be taken for granted. You best practice the presence of God when you transform even the secular into all things sacred. In doing so, you are practicing for Heaven with Him.

Today, I pray for you to sense and see the Lord near, so others are drawn to His Presence.

——————————-

If interested in purchasing the book, I have included the direct Link to the book on Amazon:

“The Practice of the Presence of God” Brother Lawrence

Christian Communications 2017-7227

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

When Life Goes Awry

June 23rd, 2017

Look past your pain to find God’s help.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, Who gives generously to all.” James 1:5 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “ When Life Goes Awry.”

Life does not always go well. And when it doesn’t, you either react or respond. It is important to know the difference. Do you feel sorry for yourself? Ask why? Assign blame? Accuse God? Panic? Those are normal reactions. I suggest that a Godly response is better. Have a good cry, then seek God for help and wisdom. Look past your pain to find God’s help to recover.

I have learned a practical definition for wisdom: “Wisdom is the ability to see your situation from God’s perspective.” Trouble misdirects your attention and distorts your focus. James described the origin and character of true wisdom in this way, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 NIV.

There is an intriguing story in the early life of David. Already a fugitive sought by King Saul, David and his loyal men returned to their homes only to find that an enemy had raided their village and taken their wives and children as captives. Read 1 Samuel 30:1-20 NIV. What they did can be a pattern for your response when life goes awry.

First, grieving for a loss is normal. Deal with the reality and disappointment. Initially, grief is normal when things happen that you never anticipated. Such moments come into life. Unfair and unanticipated circumstances happen to all, as well as the reality of spiritual attacks calculated to devastate and diminish.

Next, blaming others is unprofitable. Instead of the enemy who caused their pain, they blamed David for their troubles. In your pain it is tempting to blame someone or something, but that only feeds your anger and despair. Avoid the blame game; it is unproductive, isolating you from any help and distracting from your goal, which is hope and recovery.

Redirecting toward recovery is useful. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV. David shifted his focus from what had happened to what could happen. Look past your pain to find God’s help to recover. “David was greatly distressed . . David strengthened himself in the Lord . . David inquired of the Lord . . Pursue: for you will surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” 1 Samuel 30:6-8 NKJV. Note the process for hope and recovery. Read James1:2-8 NIV. Did you notice that trouble is the context for wisdom? I love this definition of Godly wisdom, “Wisdom is the ability to see your situation from God’s perspective.” Oh the difference that makes! That kind of wisdom comes only from God, and is only given to those who ask.

Finally, encouraging yourself in the Lord is essential. The wisest thing is to look to God. God has not and will not disappoint you, and when no one else can, He gives hope and help. “Because God has said, ’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV.

And when you do, God gives clear direction. Ask God, “What now not why.” Understanding why comes later. God said to David, “Go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you.” 1 Samuel 30:8 NLT. There is nothing uncertain in God’s words. Read the rest of the story, 1 Samuel 30:16-20 NKJV.

From my Dad, I learned, “God will not withhold from you, nor allow anyone else to do so, without making room for something better.” There were painful but profitable times, as yours will be, but that helped me become more of what I could and should be. Both Job and Joseph underscore that truth. Read Job 42:1-17 NKJV and Genesis 50:20-23 NIV. I have found that true. I don’t know what difficulty you might be experiencing, but God does, and there is victory ahead. Romans 8:37-39 NKJV. When life goes awry, look upward and move forward.

Today, I pray for you to look past your pain and find God’s help for full recovery.

Christian Communications 2017-9177

Facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Weakness and Strength

June 20th, 2017

Weakness does not limit God as much as your proud strength.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Weakness and Strength.”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.” Hebrews 11:34 NIV. 

We have a three year old great grandson, who is a typical boy, full of energy and self confidence. His insistent, “I can do it myself,” is part of his ample vocabulary. Of course, there is more that he can’t do than he knows. But his growing confidence is important as he tries new skills and challenges, and grows by his discovered abilities and exposed inabilities. In life, he will recognize that he needs and wants help. Obviously, with assistance he can do more than he is yet capable of doing without our help. Independence is not limited to preschoolers. He will learn that he needs help, and he will discover that he learns and achieves more when he accepts help.

We are all a mixture of weaknesses and strengths. And you possess more potential than you have yet comprehended. You are more capable than you have imagined or chosen to believe about yourself. I have observed that people who achieve remarkable things may not have been others’ obvious choice to do so. The difference is this. In God, they learned He could turn their weakness into His strength.

The Bible describes ordinary people making extraordinary achievements, “Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Hebrews 11:33-34 NIV. Without God, they could have done none of those things.

Paul wrestled with some malady that he felt limiting. Desiring to serve God more fully, he earnestly and repeatedly sought God to remove the source of his self-perceived weakness. Finally, he understood when, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul discovered, Therefore, . .  when I am weak, then I am strong.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV. That may seem to defy logic, as we understand it. Your weakness does not limit God as much as your proud strength can. Will you dare to believe that God is almighty enough to be undiminished and unhampered by your weaknesses, inadequacies, and limited abilities? “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10 NKJV.

Consider this. You are more limited by reliance on your perceived strengths than God is limited by what are your known weaknesses. When you understand your lack and limits, you will rely more upon God. However, when you feel self-sufficient like my grandson, you insist, “I can do it myself.” Weakness and strength are not mutually exclusive, as is often assumed. Everyone of us is ordinary. But our God is extraordinary. The secret is to entirely commit your ordinary self to an extraordinary God; “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.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to have persistent faith in our God Who is Omnipotent.

Christian Communications 2017-7307

Facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph