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)

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Setbacks

June 7th, 2019

Comebacks are optional.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for
which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NKJV.

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

Setbacks are inevitable. Comebacks are optional. Anyone can have a setback. Anyone could make a comeback, but not everyone will. Life offers you three options – backward, status quo, or forward. None of those are meant to be permanent. Progress is available for anyone who moves forward with deliberate intent, obedience, and trust. Setbacks and comebacks are options in the ebb and flow of everyday life. Life does not accommodate status quo very well. You won’t flourish long in the same place, unless you challenge and change the status quo.

You should never be content to stay where you are, nor remain who you are. God’s Word promises, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJ. You are either in a state of progress or regress. Strive to become what you could and should be in Christ. Recent history or present circumstances are not a reason for embracing inaction or determining future direction.

Paul encouraged, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:8-10 NIV. Comebacks are reserved for people that do not give up. Look to God and His Word with trust and optimism. If you think you can’t comeback from your mistake or failure, you won’t. If you believe you can in Christ, you will. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJ.

Your response to disappointment and your hope for possibilities ahead signify the direction you will choose. Choose to move forward deliberately, rather than fearfully staying put. Discouragement is more than a negative emotion. It is a paralysis of confidence and loss of conviction. Before David was King, there is a faith-building story of David and his soldiers returning from a victorious battle, only to find their city and homes decimated and their wives and children taken by an enemy. Imagine the setback. “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” But David chose a different path. He chose a glorious comeback. Read 1 Samuel 30 NKJ.

Regrettably, setbacks are a component of life that everyone will experience at one season or another. Yet there is great news. Every setback is an opportunity for a comeback. About comebacks, a friend taught me that you can’t think the same way and do the same things in the same ways, and still expect a different outcome.

Change your expectations. Choose your emotions. Learn from your failure or from what has gone awry and do what is necessary to find your path forward. The Apostle Paul captured the language and determination of Comeback, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 3:12-14.

Only Paul would say, “one thing I do,” and then explain that in four essential actions – forgetting the past, straining for what’s ahead, pressing to the goal, and winning the prize. And Paul’s anticipated prize was glorious. ”To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Read John 1:11-13 NIV. Heaven, and an eternity with Christ Jesus, await those who choose to prevail. In Christ, your comeback is glorious and unlimited.

Commit to achieve a more desirable outcome. Be one who perseveres. By its nature, life has unexpected twists and turns, and ups and downs. Expecting life to be otherwise is improbable. Learn that strength and determination grow best in adversity met with spiritual determination. Paul was confident, “For God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJ. What a powerful promise!

Today, I pray for you to be steadfast in faith and not lose heart.

EDL Communications 2019
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Questions?

May 29th, 2019

Wrong Questions Produce Inadequate Answers.
“We know in part and we prophesy in part. “ 1 Corinthians 13:9
My thoughts and comments today are about, “questions.”

Questions? We all struggle with them. Why? What? Where? When? Do you ever feel bewildered about things you don’t understand? A past you can’t explain. A future you can’t predict. Problems you can’t resolve. Circumstances you don’t control. People you can’t change. No matter how much you want to know or how hard you try, there are daily matters beyond your ability to understand or resolve, apart from God and His Word. Maybe, you are asking the wrong questions to inadequate sources.

Here is the good news. There are no such limitations for our all-knowing, all loving God. There are no bounds to the expanse of God’s knowledge and wisdom. Jesus boldly declared, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV. There will be times when you will just not be wise enough to have the answer yet. But your Heavenly Father always does.

My maternal grandmother was a saint of a woman in the truest sense of the word, none more gentle, loving, or Godly. I never heard her nor heard of her ever saying an unkind thing about anyone. If anything, she was more likely to give some explanation of why they may have felt as they did or said what they said. When asked about someone or something she could not explain, she would quietly say, “Only God knows,” and go back to whatever she was doing, usually cooking or cleaning her house while raising 13 kids, of which my Mom was the oldest.

The unexplainable or unknowable often frustrates me, but never seemed to bother her. She was content with what she apparently was not meant to know, but wonderfully at peace that God does know, and that’s all that really mattered to her. I think I prefer to become a bit more like Grandma.
Jesus identifies with every time you have asked, “why?” On the cross, as death neared and the heavens darkened as though God had withdrawn His presence, Jesus’ humanity echoed yours and my anguish at the unknowable and unanswerable, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Yet the heavens remained silent; no answer came – until Easter morning. Yet Jesus was content that some things, “only Father God knows!”

I recall an earnest university student in my office asking honest questions about human suffering, terrible tragedies, and unanswered prayers. She was wrestling with issues of faith people older than her and wiser than me have struggled to explain and failed in our attempts. I made a valiant effort, not to answer the questions exactly, but to point her to the character and nature of God and His wisdom and unfailing compassion for a world damaged and deranged by sin. In His presence, you find assurance and renewed confidence.

Godly people have asked God the hard questions before, such as why do people do bad things, why do bad things happen to good people, and why do the righteous suffer while the wicked seem to prosper. Read Jeremiah 12:1-2 NLT and Psalm 73:1-19 NIV. When will things be made right? Read Psalm 1. Psalm 2 NLT.

Thinking back on that, I should have remembered my kindly, trusting grandmother’s wisdom, “Only God knows.” That may not seem enough for intellectual arguments and relentless minds. But that really is enough for a heart that is settled in God’s care and believing His Word.

Abraham came to this conclusion, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25 NIV. In that truth, I rest all my questions. I guess that was my grandmother’s confidence as well. She knew God; what God knew was good enough for her. I am still learning that from her; I share it with you. ”For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. “ Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NIV.
Today, I pray for you to rest in God’s wisdom when yours is incomplete.

EDL Communications 2019
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Eternal Realities and Kingdom Priorities

May 24th, 2019

Do all you can as well as you can.
“Don’t waste your time on useless work,
mere busywork.” Ephesians 5:16 MSG.

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“Eternal realities and Kingdom Priorities.”

Time is irreplaceable. And sometimes opportunity is as well. Much of what you use or lose can be replaced, except for time. Time is an incredibly valuable commodity. You may not value time as you should nor use it as wisely as you could. You might incorrectly assume that you have plenty of time to spare. To live as though you have unlimited time is to presume upon the future and to neglect the moment. You cannot know how many hours, days, weeks, months, or years that you are allotted. Use wisely the time God gives you.

The Bible counsels that we are not assume anything about tomorrow, “because you do not know what a day will bring.” James 4:14 NKJV. The Psalmist taught us to pray, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NIV. Your goal should be to prize each hour and wisely fill each day you are granted. Eternal realities and Kingdom priorities are non-negotiable.  

Here are three practical suggestions for everyday life.

(1) Just say no. That should be simple enough.Learn to say no when you should.Your own trivial pursuits and selfish pleasures consume rather than contribute. To serve God well and provide the best investment of your time to do God’s will, prioritize your responsibilities and be helpful to others.You feel stress when you commit to more than you can accomplish in the available time. Jesus could confidently say, “I have finished the work that (Father) gave Me to do.” John 17:4 NKJV. Jesus knew what was eternally important. Life is best when you focus on what matters most.

(2) Put off procrastination. You can always do that later! Putting off things that should be done, and could be done now, wastes time presently and inevitably takes more time eventually. Doing what you don’t feel like doing just because it is what you should do is evidence of personal and spiritual maturity. Jesus is your model, “I do always those things that please the Father.” John 8:29 NKJV. Obeying God promptly and fully in your everyday life is time well spent.

Long ago,  I was taught this simple truth and assertion, “I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” Do all that you can as well as you can every time that you can.

(3) Take time to be holy. “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. Daily, keep in touch with the One who can guide your life and will direct your steps. See Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV. Time spent doing so is profitable and makes every effort more effective.

Jesus taught us to simplify and prioritize life, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness, all these other things will be provided for you.” Matthew 6:33 NKJV. When Jesus is first, everything else that should fit does fit. When He is not first and foremost, nothing works as well as it could.

My prayer for you today is to live every day to the glory of God.

EveryDay Life 2019
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Questions and Truth

May 17th, 2019

Truth Settles Doubt.

 ”If  any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.” James 1:5 NIV.

Lauren and Cody, my thoughts and comments today
?are about, “questions and truth.”


At one time or another, everyone will struggle with questions for which the answer is uncertain. Because of our imperfect knowledge and limited perspective, there are situations and seasons that feel bewildering. At those times, in vain we struggle to figure out what is puzzling to us.

You and I have not lived long enough or faced anything tough enough to have all the answers. When you are living and walking in obedience to God’s Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit, you can walk with trust and confidence. When your answers seem incomplete, you should seek and will receive wisdom from God.

Is there anyone who does not require wisdom for everyday life? When Solomon became the King of Israel, he asked God for one thing – wisdom! “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” 1 Kings 4:29 NIV. God’s wisdom is available to every sincere seeker of truth. The wisdom God granted Solomon is available to you and me today.

Here is the truth that the devil does not want you to know. ”If  any of you lacks  wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.” James 1:5-6 NIV.

Our Heavenly Father is not threatened by your doubts or questions. All questions are not sourced in unbelief. Only God has perfect knowledge. “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV. God has a great plan for your life, well beyond what you have imagined. Questions are often sourced in a sincere desire for truth, Our Father knows that our understanding is imperfect and inadequate much of the time. In those times, remember that your Father gave His Word and His Holy Spirit to answer sincere questions. The Word and the Spirit will always concur.

Jesus made you this promise, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” John 6:13 NKJV. If you had no questions, you would need no faith. Faith looks at the hardest uncertainties, and though without answers now simply trusts God’s love and wisdom to be enough. Trust in God, His Spirit, and His Word. You can be without doubts while wrestling with the toughest questions. Resting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Paul knew what was ahead but did not flinch or fear. Read Acts 20:22-23 NKJV. Paul must have had some questions. I would. You would. He probably did. But Paul knew where his answers would be found.

When you are uncertain and questions trouble your thoughts and rob you of peace, focus on God’s Word which is certain and unchanging. Our knowledge is limited at best. Be sure of what you do know rather than unsure about things you don’t know. Paul was confident and clear, “Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is complete comes, what is partial will be done away  . . now I know partially, then I will know fully just as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NIV. Dwell on what you know; trust God and His love for what you don’t.

What leaves more unanswered questions than death and resurrection? After Paul’s expansive defense of the Resurrection, he summarizes this way, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Those clear character qualities – steadfast, immovable, and always abounding – are the marks of a mature Christian who has asked their questions, then chosen to move beyond their doubts to rest peacefully in God’s love and truth. When you have serious questions about life, you can still live and trust with no doubts about God.

Today, I pray for you to doubt your doubts and trust God’s Word.

EveryDay Life Communications 2019

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Practice and Performance

May 2nd, 2019

See Choices clearly.

Make choices wisely.

Reap Benefits Greatly.

“Physical training is of some value, but Godliness
has value for all things.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“practice and performance.”

Performance is directly related to practice. Training and practice prepare and enable your greater achievement. Marathon runners prepare long before they await the starters gun. Athletes practice for competition. Musicians rehearse for performances. Students study to master a subject. But the point of all of those is the same as a growing spiritual life must be for you. Performance increases in the measure that practice succeeds.

As a Christian, powerful, spiritual disciplines are available to you, as well as required for your success. Your spiritual preparation involves practice and discipline. Prayer is a practice, as is reading your Bible, meditating on Scripture, the discipline of fasting, necessity of Christian fellowship, liberality with treasure and talents, and serving God and others as Jesus taught us to do.

John wrote to the young Church, “Let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” Revelation 22:11 NAS. Do you practice righteousness? Doing the right thing each time does not come naturally nor easily. But Discipleship is accomplished by the sweat and tears of learning, training, discipline, practice, and finally performance.

You learn by doing, not once but again and again and again. You practice until the action becomes instinctive, scarcely requiring concentrated thought. No one enjoys practice, but enjoyment is neither the gauge of achievement nor the goal of the Christian life. Clarifying decision and consistent discipline are conditions for every success.

Practice lacks the invigorating challenge of competition. At practice, there is no thrill of victory just numbing repetition, discipline, and hard work. Whatever the sport, every coach requires more hours of practice than the actual time taken to play the game. The coach knows the physical and mental conditioning that will be required. In the pressure of the game situation, the exhausting drills in practice result in quicker reflexes, game winning skills, and provide the margin of difference between winning or losing.

Games are rarely won by one dramatic big play. Every win is possible because of the previous moments developing stamina and acquiring skills that an athlete learns in practice, along with the advantage of coaching before and throughout the course of a game. Those equip the athlete to excel and help their team to obtain a victory.

Paul understood, “You also must run in such a way that you will win. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So, I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.“ Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT. You were not called to leisure. You are called to have passion about spiritual growth and development. That which engages you and I daily is much more consequential, both presently and eternally. The requirement is great; the reward even greater.

The Apostle wrote to young Timothy, “Spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, promising life both for the present and for the future.” 1 Timothy 4:8 TEV. By the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, you are being trained to differentiate between what is good and what is not.

Read Hebrews 5:14 NLT. Accordingly, you can make wise life choices, reliably and consistently. Your well-being depends upon your doing so. In your spiritual life, practice enables performance. “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 NAS.

See the choices clearly and make your choices wisely, according to God’s Word. “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 NAS. That requires training and practice.

Today, I pray for you to be well trained and spiritually prepared.

Christian Communications 2019
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Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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