Archive

Posts Tagged ‘content’

Prosperity and Adversity

February 12th, 2016

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “prosperity and adversity.”

“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

When I was a young teen, I questioned my Dad, a pastor, about a young husband and father I had admired in our congregation. He had such a heart for God and an expressed interest in ministry. He was personable, eloquent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and diligent. His natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry, until he experienced rapid and unexpected success in his construction business.

As he prospered, his plans adjusted as his interests, time, and attention shifted. I well remember his words, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” The first part of his goal was met and exceeded; the latter intention was neither attempted nor realized. My Dad’s response to my disappointment was specific, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s words. Adversity is difficult; prosperity can be deceptive. Be careful, riches will be deceitful. 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 man] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. Both prosperity and adversity have unique 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 will not meet your needs.

Uzziah was a young king of Judah who enjoyed great success during his fifty-two year reign. He beautified and fortified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. He was feared and respected by surrounding nations. His land was fruitful and his people prosperous. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV.

Ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he 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 NKJV. Prosperity without humility and gratitude is destructive.

Far from the prideful height of acclaim, success, and sufficiency, Uzziah died a leper under the judgement of God, ostracized from others. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

Here is the simple truth Solomon understood, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV. The Apostle Paul gave invaluable advice, “Everywhere and in all things, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV. 

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

Christian Communications 2016
Website and archives: www.allenrandolph.com
www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Practices

October 9th, 2015

“The Father has blessed us . . with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual practices.”

Days can be busy and noisy, leaving you over-stimulated and weary. Everything seems rushed and everyone hurried. All too often, the urgent displaces the important. The pace of our lives and the noise of our surroundings diminish things vital to our well-being. More tragically, you can lose something of yourself somewhere in the noise and busyness. Unrelenting activity produces a confused identity. A conviction of spiritual identity provides: certainty about purpose, clarity of direction, and sufficiency of your God-given gifts and abilities. So much depends upon a true sense of your God-given identity.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude. We are so much like the disciples – often busy and tired. Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV. Time alone with God is where you rediscover your identity in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV. In his epistles, Paul wrote prolifically about your life, “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV.

Let me suggest Biblical disciplines that strengthen your spiritual identity. Begin with this. Practice Sabbath rest. The Sabbath principle incorporates the whole of one’s life before the Lord. All other spiritual disciplines begin and extend from a heart that practices the principle of Sabbath. More than a day set aside from usual and necessary activity, Sabbath is a deliberate time – without worry or hurry – to reorient your body, soul, and spirit with the Biblical practices that encourage and celebrate your faith. In Jesus, true Sabbath is found. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.

Prioritize quiet and solitude. Practice to be quiet and content in God’s presence. “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:1-2 NIV. Prioritize time in God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Regular attention to the reading and meditation of Scripture is critically important. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV. Prioritize prayer with thanksgiving. Communicating your heart and gratitude to God results in communion with God. “In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Prioritize Praise and Worship. Grow comfortable expressing your heart in joyful adoration. Psalm 100 NIV. Prioritize edifying Fellowship. You were made for community. Acts 2:46-47 NKJV. That is where you grow and serve best. “Let us not neglect our meeting together . . but encourage and warn one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT. Spiritual practices develop a life that abides in Christ, trusts His finished work on the cross, and celebrates your identity in Christ.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is rooted and built up in Christ Jesus.

Christian Communications

Bible

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wise Benevolence

September 2nd, 2015

“Cast your bread upon the waters.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NKJV.

God directs the affairs of men with wise benevolence.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wise benevolence.”

Theologians of a previous era wrote often of the providence of God, describing it as, “The care and character of Almighty God who with foresight and omniscience directs the affairs of men with wise benevolence.” Your life is more providential than you might realize. Will you abandon your carefully devised plans? Trust your Heavenly Father, who is the Almighty God, to provide for you by means of His “omniscience and wise benevolence.”

(1) Let your generosity be deliberate and unmeasured. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again . . (your gifts will return to you later).” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NIV/NLT. To me, the phrasing of this verse suggests an open-hearted lifestyle of liberality toward God and others, with no personal constraints as to what and when the return will be. The Biblical concept is the surrender of predictability. You can determine neither the source nor the time of your compensation. Such carefree release is a wonderful thing. Isaiah understood this elementary trust, “What is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” Isaiah 49:4 NIV. If and when others do not respond as you expect, trust your disappointment to God who always rewards righteously. God will be no man’s debtor.

(2) Liberality is a lifestyle for times good and bad. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV. The limits of one’s foresight makes predicting what will or will not be beneficial a waste of time. ”Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27 NKJV. A content and confident life results from abandoning your cautions to God’s wise and provident reward. Rest your heart and hopes in the wise benevolence and providence of God. Your own or others’ forecast of your future will be inaccurate.

(3) Life is tiring when you hold things too tightly. “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV. Solomon observed, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. God can only multiply and return what you will release. Choose to refresh others and discover the path to being refreshed.

Today, I pray for you that every word or act of kindness will bring multiple joys.

Christian Communications

EDL PIX rushing waters

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Sacred Quest

September 9th, 2014

“Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8 NKJV.

Spiritual attainment requires serious intention.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the sacred quest.”

A meaningful Christian life is not found by curious or casual inquiry. Any serious pursuit of God requires sincerity and priority. God is neither elusive nor is the path to Him concealed, but the opposition to your doing so is intense, internally and externally. There is a sacred path reserved to those for whom life without God is not enough; it is a path for the decisive and determined.

When Jesus’ description of suffering and sacrifice fell unpleasantly upon the offended ears of those who looked only for easy paths, the crowds dwindled and Jesus asked His disciples if they would also turn away. I love Peter’s prompt response, “Lord, to whom shall we go, for You only have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. What you believe to be of inestimable value and for which there is no suitable substitute is worthy of whole hearted passion.

David pledged, O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You . . My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:1 NIV/8 KJV. Spiritual attainment requires serious intention. Things of spiritual value do not come cheaply; their very cost measures their eternal worth. God Himself described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 7:22.

In Jesus’ story about earnest, undiscourageable persistence, He defined the heart’s quest as a simple, progressive process. Read Luke 11:5-10. (1) “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you . . for everyone that asks receives.” Asking is an elementary step for a life that desires God’s best. Jesus said, “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” Read Matthew 6:8-13. Prayer is the process of uncovering your real needs and discovering God as their true source of supply. Asking is not to persuade God to be benevolent; asking prepares you to be receptive.

(2) “And I say to you . . seek, and you will find . . he who seeks, finds.” There is a natural progression in your earnest pursuit of God that is both purposeful and passionate. Here the element of effort is included. As you persist, the Spirit examines your true desires and faith. Of yourself, what are you willing to give, or give up, in your quest for God?

(3)“And I say unto you . . knock, and it will be opened unto you . . to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” A further progression of spiritual intensity involves the element of perseverance. Persevere in prayer and faith; if you can be distracted or discouraged, you will be. “And you will seek Me and find Me when you will search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13.  This is Jesus’ reasoning, “If you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

David’s personal affirmation and expectation was, “You are my God; earnestly I seek You . . My soul will be satisfied!” Psalm 63:1/5 NIV. The soul which is content and confident in God will be satisfied with God.

Today, my prayer for you is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly, whatever sacrifice that requires.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Security

February 22nd, 2013

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 NIV.

The great lie is that security can be found in something other than God.

God designed and created you to be absolutely secure. God placed Adam and Eve in Eden, a perfect garden. There they had uncomplicated fellowship with God; they were safe; they were as one; they had every abundance; they enjoyed responsibility and authority. Then Adam and Eve believed a lie, bringing disobedience and sin into that perfect garden and nothing again was perfect. Genesis 3:1-8 NKJV. The lie was that their security could be found in something other than God. That same lie still deceives today. And what did they do? “They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord.”

Throughout entire lifetimes, people search for security. Security is elusive to those for whom God’s presence is uncomfortable. Innately, people feel they are created to be secure, but also struggle with feelings of insecurity. So much was lost when Adam and Eve sinned, yet ever since, “God [has been] reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 NKJV. Reconciliation is still where you can find security of soul – finally secure in right relationship with God through the Savior, Jesus Christ. See Romans 5:12-21 NKJV.

God made a promise to Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 NIV. Moses’ response should be yours and mine, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Vs. 15. Why choose to travel on without God alongside? God’s Presence is always the source of true rest. There would be much in Israel’s journey that they would lack and much opposition and difficulty the nation would face, both from within and without, but the single, most important thing was Moses’ and the nation’s assurance that they would never be without God’s Presence. The nation of Israel is a testament to that truth still today.

You will not find absolute security by searching for the wrong things in the wrong places. Reputation and renown, wealth and prestige, celebrity and influence, properties and material possessions, self indulgence and the myriad of other things in combination or individually with which people try to fill their lives can never, provide security for hearts and souls. Your heart will never be content until it finds rest in God alone. There will never be enough of other things to fill the place that was made for God to fill.

The New Testament echoes with just such a promise and assurance that your life will not lack God’s presence and providence. Paul asked and answered the age-old question, “If God be for us, who can be against us? He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He who gave us Christ not [graciously] give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32 NKJV/NLT.

Do you struggle with emptiness of purpose? Deep within, do you suffer undefined lack? Accept Jesus’ invitation, “Come unto Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. There, in His presence, you will be safe, settled, sound, and secure. See Psalm 16:11 NKJV.

My prayer for you this day is that you will never know a moment apart from His Presence.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,