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Archive for February, 2020

Prosperity and Adversity

February 21st, 2020

God’s Will Is Unchanging.

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health,

just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJ.

My thoughts today are about, “Prosperity and Adversity.”

From a college class in English Literature, I recall a quote from Rudyard Kipling. Across these subsequent years of life, I have only begun to understand his words.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son.”
“IF” – Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

As a young man, I questioned my Dad about a friend just a few years older than me who aspired to ministry. He had such a heart for God and his natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry. He was articulate, personable, likable, enthusiastic, encouraging, energetic, and talented.

I well remember my friend’s words to me. As he viewed his future, he explained, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” Sadly, he accomplished his first goal but never found time for the latter one. A noble intention. A bold confidence. A misplaced priority.

Meanwhile, in His construction business, he experienced rapid and unanticipated success and. With his growing business and wealth, his priorities, time, and attention shifted, and his plans for ministry were ultimately rescheduled for later. The first part of his goal was met and even exceeded, yet his ministry intentions were never attempted or realized in his lifetime.

Almost sixty years later, I still remember my Dad’s insightful explanation of my friend’s dilemma, ”More people can endure adversity than those who can successfully handle prosperity.” I have observed that my Dad was accurate. My friend failed to handle his prosperity. He failed to recognize his adversity. I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s summary. Success is alluring. Wealth is deceptive. God’s will is unchanging.

In His masterful and practical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and [a person] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. You are wise to learn how to manage both prosperity and adversity. Both present differing hazards. In the best of times, you may easily forget your need of God’s daily provision. In the worst of times, you can incorrectly assume God cannot or will not meet your needs. Both are inaccurate. Neither is true.

Much like my friend, King Uzziah enjoyed great success during his fifty-two-year reign. The Bible says of him, “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJ. Think of that description for a moment. He fortified and beautified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. His land was fruitful. His people were prosperous. God was faithful.

Then, ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for Uzziah was marvelously helped [by God] until he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 NKJ.

No one of us is so self-sufficient that we have no need of God. Without humility and gratitude, prosperity lacks or becomes personally destructive. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, ”More people can endure adversity than those who can successfully manage prosperity.” Rest in this truth, “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV.

Today, I pray for you, “to prosper in all things just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJ.

EDL Communications 2020

Website and Archives: allenrandolph.com

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Devotionals

Life is Best When God is First

February 11th, 2020

KEEP FIRST THINGS FIRST

 “I alone know the plans I have for you . . . to bring about the future you hope for. ” Jeremiah 29:11 Good News Translation.

My thoughts today are that, “Life Is Best When God Is First.”

As most teens, I struggled with establishing priorities. I assumed a priority was what I wanted to do when I wished to do so. As you might imagine, my Dad was very persuasive otherwise. And soon, he persuaded me as well. As a teenager, I frequently heard his simple reminder, “keep first things first.”

Priorities help achieve success. Jesus set the Kingdom of God as His, and our, priority. “Seek first [His] Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV. I have observed that when you do the important things first you do them better.

Priorities simplify planning. When you fail to plan, you unintentionally plan to fail. Success is achievable daily with a plan that is clear and manageable. Without adequate forethought and planning, you will not accomplish success. A plan is like GPS. You first decide on your desired destination. Then a route is formulated as the best way from where you are to where you need to be. That applies to everyday life.

Some years ago, a simple and practical business strategy became popular, “Plan your  work; work your plan.” A life lived without a plan does not work well. And any plan that is not clear and manageable on some daily basis will not lead to success .

Solomon’s words remain wise counsel in any circumstance. “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 NLT. When you plan, you visualize the priority and time required for the matters needing your effort.

When you neglect those moments to think through a day’s responsibilities, you still find yourself busy but less productive. When your day lacks a plan, energy is misspent. Effort is misapplied. Attention is distracted. Time is mismanaged. And important things are replaced by alternatives that seem easier and more enjoyable.

Priorities are necessary to be productive. Now, let’s look at this on a larger scale with more eternal consequence. This principle especially applies to your spiritual life, as well as your daily life. Those two are inseparable. You will be more successful at the latter, when you succeed at the former. You cannot compartmentalize life where you sometime retain operational control, while in others you expect God to direct and provide. Jesus is Lord of all. Or He is not Lord at all. 

I am grateful for my Dad’s reminders, “Allen, keep first things first!” It’s very simple really. First, you work, then you play. First, you save, then you spend. First, you seek God’s plan, and then you follow. You and your well-being have been in God’s plans from the beginning and will continue to be. Read Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT.

Life is best when God is first. God has the redemptive and definitive plan for your life. Scripture is consistent. “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 GNT. Through prayer and Scripture, let God plan your work. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. That being true, then devote yourself to knowing and following His plan. That is called obedience, a priority to God and a necessity for your success.

Obedience will supply you with the necessary focus and ability you do not otherwise possess. Obedience will produce opportunities you neither earned nor expected. And obedience will yield achievement you do not imagine. God’s direction is always accurate; His timing is always exact; His results are always gracious and generous.

My prayer for you today is to desire and discover God’s purpose in all you do.

EDL Communications 2020

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Devotionals