The Fragrance of Joy

January 31st, 2018

Your life should express the fragrance of His presence.

 “Thanks be to God, Who through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Fragrance of Joy.”

Life is not perfect for anyone, and every moment is not filled only with wonderful things. Life changes dramatically, and for the better, when you realize that your circumstances do not determine your experience of life; your attitude does.

I admire people who have faced more struggles and disappointments than most, but who have nevertheless found grace and grown an attitude that reflects who they are, instead of what happened to them. I have met others who have a fairly easy life with few challenges of any consequence, and yet they find little for which to be joyful or thankful. Occasionally, it is a good thing to ask yourself, “Does my life reflect to others what is going on around me, or what is really true inside me?” That significant and substantial difference is the product of the choices you make.

Since a child, I have loved the dramatic Bible stories in the Old Testament, like Samson finally triumphing over the Philistines and himself, or Daniel in the lions’ den whose quiet trust in God humbles an arrogant King, or the three Hebrews delivered from Babylon’s fiery furnace (modern day Iraq). I find a most intriguing comment, easily unnoticed, tucked into this story of the three believers tossed angrily into a furnace intended to destroy them. Read Daniel 3. When the fire could not destroy them nor even harm them, the amazed, befuddled king calls them out of the fire.

The Bible says, “They saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected – not even the smell of smoke was on them.” Daniel 3:27. There was no discernible residue of their frightening experience, no lingering emotional trauma, nor need for healing of memories. Only their new and stirring testimony of God’s greatness and faithfulness persevered.

If you are not careful, you will allow your past or present circumstances to determine your attitudes, dictate your feelings, and dominate your conversation. When your story could be a persuasive testimony that glorifies God, it will be only about you and your problems. Read Daniel 3:28-29. In Daniel’s story, a king’s heart is changed; God is glorified; a nation is impacted. The simple difference is that they were with Jesus, joyfully in His company and safely in His care. See Daniel 3:24-25. Attitude really is crucial, having the power to change everything and anyone, and that all begins with the choice you make.

Paul prayed for these Christians and for you, ”We pray that you will be strengthened with His glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father, Who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God’s holy people, who live in the light.” Colossians 1:11-12 NLT. Whose joy is to fill you? “Always be full of the joy of the Lord!” Like a thermometer, happiness merely measures the surrounding climate and adjusts accordingly. The joy of the Lord resembles a thermostat, regulating and governing the surrounding temperature.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God, Who . . through us spreads everywhere the fragrance  of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved.” Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NIV. Some years ago, I learned to pray, “Let my life express the fragrance of Your presence, not the smell of my problems.”

Today, I pray for your life to be a joyful testimony of God’s grace and sufficiency.

Christian Communications 2018-(807)

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Are You an Example of Exception?

July 11th, 2018

Example Provides the Power for Persuasion.

“Christ, Who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today ask a question,

“Are You An Example Or Exception?”

When I was a young man preparing for ministry, my Dad gave me invaluable advice for success. His wise counsel applies to all areas of life and leadership. Out of his own experience and personal example, my Dad taught me practical wisdom for every day life. It was simple enough that I have recalled his words for more than fifty years.

He said, “Never ask or expect others to go where you have not gone, nor expect someone to do what you have not been willing to do, nor expect anyone to give what you are not willing to give.” “Do as I say,” never works as well as, “Do as I do.” Think about this for a moment. Example provides the power for persuasion.

Jesus is the best example. He sacrificed much more than He requires of you and me. To those who wanted to know how to live well, He kept it basic. He simply said, “Follow Me.” Anyone can do that if they want to do so. To be an effective leader of people, you must first be an example of what you expect of others. To be influential, you must be an example.

As Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in the night before His sacrifice, He established a pattern for theirs and our service and sacrifice for others and toward one another, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.” Read John 13:15-17 NKJ. For a moment, think about Jesus’ example and yours.

Whether talking about parenting, relationships, business dealings, or any arena that requires leadership, your involvement should be exemplary and inspiring to others, whether big or small. Many years later Peter wrote of Jesus’ example,“Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 NLT.

The Apostle Paul was direct, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10 NKJ. For the times when you grow weary and people seem to take your kindness for granted, remember the Bible’s counsel to keep your eyes on Jesus, “Consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3 NIV. Jesus’ example always inspires. Yours should do the same.

The Bible’s intention is about your living a holy consistency of life before God and others. Let’s be practical about this: doing the least you can neither produces the satisfaction you seek nor the expected result in others’ lives. God asks you to be an example while never allowing yourself to be an exception, giving up your right to make excuses and not expecting more of others than you require of yourself.

Your Biblical responsibility and God’s expectation of you is this: “Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NLT. Being an example is good; excusing yourself to be an exception to that is not.

Today I pray for you to live a life that glorifies God and edifies others.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Character, Reputation, and Esteem

July 6th, 2018

Reputation is easier to protect than repair

“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Character, Reputation, and Esteem.”

Reputation is what people report to others about you. Your reputation is the history of who you have been, the story of where you have been, and the record of who you are becoming. Your reputation opens doors for you or closes doors to you. Reputation is what people believe to be true of you, whether their opinion is accurate or exaggerated. A good reputation is invaluable, when it reflects Godly character. Being reputable is a valued spiritual and social priority that requires time to achieve and careful attention to sustain.

A Godly reputation is only accomplished over a length of time with practiced and predictable consistency of character. But reputation can be quite fragile, easily damaged, or diminished by uncharacteristic behavior. Solomon elevated the value of reputation above riches. “Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NLT. Reputation should be highly valued and also guarded vigilantly.

However, a bad reputation can happen more easily and rapidly than you might imagine. Once assigned to you, a poor reputation can require a lengthy time and much difficulty to repair. Protecting a reputation is easier than repairing one. Remember, reputation can either open or close doors for your potential future. Reliability is important to people, therefore it must be important to you. The Bible is clear: “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones . . if you are untrustworthy . . who will trust you?” Luke 16:10-12 NLT. Reliability is a vital factor of reputation. Opportunities are directly related to past faithfulness.

Exchanging even a moment of your future for a present season of your life is shortsighted. You want it to be true of you as was written of Demetrius, “Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius. We ourselves can say the same for him.” 3 John 12 NLT. My aspiration is as was written of those people of faith and faithfulness, “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.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. I want to live in such a manner that my God, family, and friends would have no reason to feel ashamed.

Today I pray for you to live in a manner that is with honor and without reproach.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Freed To Be Free

July 4th, 2018

A Person or Nation Without God is Without a Destiny.

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Freed to be Free.”

As the United States celebrates our founding as a nation this week, it seems appropriate to remember that we have pledged ourselves to be, “One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Lately, we have not done so well on the, “One nation under God [and] indivisible,” parts.

If those words become just rhetoric rather than authentic conviction, we will have far less to celebrate and much more to regret. The current climate of political and social discourse has created a growing and worrisome gulf between the secular and religious that should be a warning of concern. If we do not do better, we will owe God an apology and our founding Fathers an explanation.

Our nation without God would become a nation without a destiny, lacking the power of conviction to achieve its destiny. Yet there is an even greater truth that I choose to celebrate, the freedom that we have been given in Christ Jesus. Our Sovereign God promises, “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NIV.

The Apostle Paul wrote much about freedom and liberty while living under a Roman government that ruled by power and force, allowing only marginal liberty. To the young and often struggling church, Paul wrote much about the freedom and liberty that is found in Christ.

These past days, one Scripture in particular has occupied my thoughts and is my cause for reflection and rejoicing. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. Four crucial truths are evident in that verse and its surrounding context – God’s initiative in Christ, The Holy Spirit’s objective, your destiny, and your resolve.

(1). INITIATIVE. The redemptive truth of Jesus Christ is this, “Christ has set us free.“ Every good initiative begins in God’s heart. James understood that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.”  James 1:17-18 NIV.

In the purpose of God, you were set free long before you knew you needed or wanted a Savior. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8-9 NKJ. Everything has changed. You are unshackled from your past. You are redeemed, no longer a slave to sin and self.

(2). OBJECTIVE. “It is FOR FREEDOM that Christ has set us free.” Our freedom has always been God’s objective. In Christ, God purposed absolute freedom for all who would embrace the Savior. Christ’s objective was, and remains to be, an all inclusive and enduring freedom. Freedom from your past. Freedom now and freedom throughout your future, with an eternity with Christ and others forever.

 (3). DESTINY. “Stand firm then.” You have a responsibility to stay free, and in the power of the Holy Spirit you are given the ability to live free. Freedom in Christ means much more than forgiveness for your past, or grace in this moment. Freedom is His abiding destiny for your future as well, the promise that you need never be without grace. His grace is ever sufficient. Consider Paul’s words, “This means that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

(4). RESOLUTE. Do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. You are free from your history, free from your hurts, free from your weaknesses, free from your failures, free from your regrets, and finally free to embrace your life in Christ and His fullness. “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV.

The last word: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJ.

Today I pray for you to comprehend all that has been given you.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Finishing Strong

June 26th, 2018

Anyone can start. Only the determined finish.

”I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Finishing Strong.”

Life is a marathon, not a sprint – a competitive race, not a casual run. The Bible says, “Those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize].” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJ. Finish strong. There will be the Father’s acknowledgment,  “well done,” and a crown of righteousness awaiting you.

Life is best lived when you are moving forward, neither slow nor still. In every season of life, it is important to remember that you are never too young or old to tackle a new challenge. Aging is inevitable. Old is optional. Old is more about a diminishing vision than the number of your years. Solomon warned, “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraints.” Proverbs 29:18. Keep your vision clear, your purpose consistent, and your eyes fixed on God. Whatever your age or circumstance, choose to finish strong.

Caleb was a contemporary of Joshua. Read Numbers 13:26-33 / Joshua 14:6-14. Caleb’s path was straight ahead with faith and spiritual vigor. He served with a Godly momentum, continuing strong in his confidence of the Lord who had the character and power to keep His Word, whatever the passing of time or size of the challenge.

Because the passage of time did not change God, Caleb would not let his age change his faith nor lessen his endeavors. “As the Lord promised . . here I am today, eighty-five years old! . . I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Read Joshua 14:10-12 NIV. That is how you finish strong. Caleb chose to live, not accommodating the obstacle before him but by the God who was inside him.

As was the faith of those Old Testament examples, the Apostle Paul kept his eyes focused straight ahead, “One thing I do: 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. Keep your eyes on the goal. Finish strong.

Live in a manner that dedicates to a Godly focus, commits to a worthwhile purpose, and contributes to the well-being of others. At any age, young or old, everyone has something to contribute that can be beneficial to others. To Timothy, his young protégé, Paul assessed his own journey with anticipation, “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJ. Paul finished strong. What a Godly example for Timothy, the young minister. Anyone can start. Only the determined finish.

Live life every day moving forward in faith and obedience. Going somewhere. Accomplishing something. Making a difference. Building on successes. Benefiting from failures. Excelling today. Building for tomorrows.

Foolishly and frequently unrecognized, some people squander their years, energies, and their life on careers, hobbies, or recreation to the unintended and unrecognized neglect of their soul, as well as things important to their joy and accomplishment – such as family, friendships, and serving the Lord by serving others.

The Apostle Paul’s heart was committed to life in its fullness. His clarity of purpose and priority was fixed. “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News.” Acts 20:24 NLT. Along the way, his goal was to live every day until his last day with a growing and Godly momentum – to finish his assignment and fulfill his ministry. Is that the way you live for God today, and will you purpose to do so every day?

Paul summarized his life, “The time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to me on that day – and to all who love His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJ. No time wasted. No effort spared.

I want to live that way. I don’t want to finish in a rocking chair. I want to finish with a flourish, full of faith, fully engaged in life, with steadfast purpose and clear-eyed focus. I don’t want to stand before Jesus with need for apology or regret. I may not set a world record as the fastest or best, but I want to be accelerating when I cross the finish line. How you live every day has everything to do with finishing strong.

My prayer for you today is to give life your best, in His strength, until He comes.

Christian Communications 2018

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

 

 

Origin and Purpose

June 20th, 2018

GOD’S APPROVAL EXCEEDS MAN’S APPLAUSE.

“THERE WAS A MAN SENT FROM GOD.” John 1:6 NKJV

 

MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS TODAY ARE ABOUT, ORIGIN AND PURPOSE.”

Every person needs a healthy, holy sense of their origin and purpose. When either is lacking the other is diminished. Origin is where your journey begins. And your journey truly begins when you submit yourself to God’s will. Purpose defines, directs, and enables you to accomplish the will of God throughout your life. Solomon observed that, “Without a vision people cast off restraints.” Proverbs 29:18. When you lessen the vision of your future, your achievement in life is diminished as well.

I am intrigued by the Bible’s unvarnished introduction of John the Baptist. The Bible simply says of him, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John 1:6 NKJV. There is much that could be said of John in tribute. His birth was miraculous. His life was exemplary. His death was for righteousness. His ministry and words pricked the heart of a generation. His Godliness convicted a King. His preaching angered a queen, who sought his life and succeeded.

Jesus was a cousin of John, and said of him, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11 NIV. Never before. Never after. Take a moment to consider Jesus’ endorsement of John, a tribute of highest praise. John walked a clear and certain path while his peers lived by whim. John stood out from the crowd, because he sought the approval of God more than the applause of men.

What made John outstanding in his generation? What put the manly resolve in him to stand fast and stay true to God’s plan for his life? Reading his story in Scripture, his ministry was prophesied, and his life’s assignment given before his birth. He was an ascetic, calling a nation to repentance, for a few years receiving surprising popularity while preaching repentance and baptizing converts along the Jordan River. His calling and purpose were to prepare the way for Messiah, and he had the joy of baptizing Jesus in the Jordan, being the first to publicly announce, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” See John 1:29-34 NKJV.

John’s origin was miraculous, specifically ordained of God and announced to his aged, childless parents by an angel. Read Luke 1:5-25 NIV. John was an impossibility by every natural means. Above all else that could be said of him are words that grip my heart and capture my fascination. The Bible simply says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” His origin was supernatural, not natural. His origin defined his purpose, as does yours.

At salvation, Jesus chose you for a purpose. “He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ.” Read Ephesians 1:7-9 NIV. The Apostle Paul had much to say about purpose.And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” Read Romans 8:28-30 NIV. That is motivating, liberating truth.

Your purpose is to be a little more like Jesus every day. How does that happen? You learn His Word. You welcome the Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart. You walk in obedience to God’s Word and will. The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to continually conform you and me into a growing likeness of Jesus.

As truly as was said of John, in Heaven the same is said of you, “There was a man – or woman – that was sent from God, whose name was (insert your name here).”

Today I pray for you to know you are chosen and sent by God.

Christian Communications 2018

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph