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Purity Produces Clarity

November 16th, 2017

Walk uprightly with conviction and clarity.

 “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are that,

“Purity Produces Clarity.”

I am assuming you have read my most recent comments on, “Clarity or Ambiguity.” If not, take a few minutes to do so at: allenrandolph.com. I would like to continue a bit on this important theme – the necessity of purity as the basis for moral and spiritual clarity. In a confused, uncertain, and less than clear world, clarity is a rare but valuable commodity. Too many people live in a relational, moral, and spiritual fog. Not much seems clear about matters that are vital.

Our culture, media, and popular opinions offer mixed assumptions and confusing answers, of which Jesus warned, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?” Read Luke 6:39-42 NKJV. The answer is obvious; the results are debilitating. Without purity life is confusing. Too many people are sorely burdened by their past and woefully uninformed and unprepared for eternity. Too many marriages and families struggle without enduring truth as their foundation. As a result, far too many marriages stumble forward with increasing dismay and the resulting disarray.

Making sense of daily life and finding purpose and meaning require God’s truth, not man’s opinions. God’s Word provides the answers you lack and the wisdom you need. Jesus taught eight simple, practical principles for a life that God promises to bless. Among those, Jesus affirmed that, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 NIV. Do you see the connection? Purity is necessary for spiritual clarity.

I am inspired by the clarity of Daniel’s conviction. In a hostile culture and with every pressure to conform,“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. As Daniel did, set the Word of God as foremost in your heart and daily practice. Walk uprightly with conviction and clarity. Jesus directly connected the purity of your heart with your ability to recognize truth and comprehend God.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV. The principle applies broadly. The more your heart is cleansed by God’s Word, the clearer your understanding and the more consistent your obedience. The Psalmist wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul . . The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Read Psalm 19:7-10 NKJV.

Jesus often used stories, examples, or analogies to present a practical truth. On one such occasion, He asked, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? . . First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Read Matthew 7:3-5 NIV. Clarity about Who God is, what His Word says, and who you are in Christ are essential and invaluable. But from where does such clarity come?

“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.” Luke 6:45 NIV.  Writing to Timothy, his young protégé, Paul summarized God’s calling and expectation, “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV. That’s a big order, but not too big for the Holy Spirit to reproduce in you. Read Galatians 5:22-23 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to be sure about the things that need to be clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2017

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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. 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.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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Identity Theft

October 2nd, 2015

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Your identity can be fully rediscovered in redemption.

My thoughts and comments today are about “identity theft.”

Identity is the core of everything about a confident and successful life, yet many people struggle with a confused identity. You will not discover your identity by looking in the mirror or recounting your achievements and accumulations, nor by the compliments or criticisms from others. Authentic identity comes from knowing who you are in Christ.

Identity theft is a growing problem in our increasingly technological society. Nationally, a new victim of identity theft occurs every two seconds. In 2014, there were 13.1 million victims resulting in thefts of $16 billion. As numerous and disconcerting as those statistics seem, there is a vastly more devastating theft of identity occurring within the hearts and souls of men. The enemy of your soul is relentless in trying to deface the image of Christ in whomever it is found. Nowhere in Scripture is the devil’s tactic to deface one’s God-given identity clearer than in the story of Daniel.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, invaded and conquered Israel. Please read Daniel 1. In the first of three invasions, he took young men of royalty and nobility back to Babylon, removing the best and brightest of Israel. Four attempts were made to ultimately remove and replace their Godly identity. Every move was strategic, changing their Godly identity by removing their Jewish heritage and practices while replacing those with the ways and worship of Babylon.

(1) Isolation from previous experiences – nation, faith, family, history, and spiritual heritage and practice. Vs 3. Separation from Godly reinforcement – family, Godly fellowship, church, and spiritual practices of prayer and God’s Word – initiated his devilish scheme to displace their previous dependence and trust.
(2) Indoctrination by replacing their beliefs, convictions, and language with “the language and literature of the Babylonians.” Vs 4. Be advised; culture today is a powerful tool of conversion, shaping your thoughts, desires, beliefs, behavior, standards, mores and morals.
(3) Influence by reorienting their appetites from kosher dietary practices to a “daily provision of the King’s delicacies and the wine he drank.” Vs 5. Jewish practice included a kosher diet. Babylon’s purpose was to create a new taste for what they could not provide for themselves, becoming dependent on the King’s good will and benevolence.
(4) Identity theft was the devilish strategy all along. The final scheme was to change their Hebrew names to foreign names attributed to Babylonian gods, discrediting who they were and persuading who they were meant to be. Vs 6-7. When I was a teen, I rarely left the house without my Dad reminding me, “Allen, don’t forget you are a Randolph.”

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. A devious king could not steal his identity. Daniel knew who he was because he knew Who was the Source and Sovereign of his life. Your identity cannot be confused or compromised if you know who you are in Christ. Read Ephesians 2:3-6 NIV. For all who are “in Christ,” your identity can be fully rediscovered in redemption. “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. For He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Read Ephesians 1:3-9 NIV. “[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Read Romans 8:37-39 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is assured and secure in Christ.

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Today’s EveryDay Life is a continuation of the previous devotional, “History and Destiny,” from a recent Sunday ministry. You can listen to that teaching at the following link by clicking on “Identity Theft.”

Christian Communications 1653

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Courage and Confidence

April 29th, 2015

“Stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.“ 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV.

Face your fear or your present fear will control your future.

My thoughts and comments today are about “courage and confidence.”

Years earlier, there had been a difficult and disappointing church situation, and I was not sure what the outcome might be in many people’s lives, people that I pastored and for which I was responsible. Feeling embattled, I envisioned a favorite Bible story of personal courage, the battlefield scene between David and Goliath. See 1 Samuel 17:1-25.

As I read Samuel’s description of the occasion, “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.” (1 Sam 17:48 NLT), I could “see” David with only a simple, shepherd’s sling, yet running with abandon directly toward the towering, armor-clad warrior that all others feared. In my heart, I knew the Lord was speaking directly to me about courage and confidence. My situation seemed to require more courage and confidence than I was experiencing.

David story captures one’s imagination – young David against Goliath, a seasoned warrior. Because of its larger than life storybook ending, the phrase “David against Goliath” has even become a part of secular speech. Though an actual event, it also provides a powerful metaphor of times and situations that you will face, where the odds of success are clearly unfavorable and the ultimate outcome questionable to everyone, except you and God.

God seems to love those kinds of real life stories. Moses against powerful Pharaoh. Joseph betrayed by his brothers. Three Hebrew captives righteously defying a Persian King and his fiery furnace. Daniel facing ravenous lions. Elijah facing down the 450 prophets of Baal. Paul staring at a treacherous storm at sea and declaring, “Fear not, be of good cheer.” Read Hebrews 11.

In just such times, you must first face the fear to move forward with courage, to do what needs to be done without hesitation, to do what others will not do and doubt that you can. At such times, your faith has to overpower every fear and uncertainty. Read 1 Samuel 17:8-11. The natural inclination is to run the opposite direction, away from the confrontation and danger. But if you do, your fear will chase and haunt you forever. Face your fear or your present fear will control your future.

Without hesitation, “David quickly ran out to meet [Goliath].” The sight of this diminutive shepherd boy coming his way did not frighten Goliath, but he must have been momentarily startled to see the preposterous sight, startled just long enough for David to seal Goliath’s fate forever. As he was known to do on other occasions, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV. I suggest two practical things that strengthened David’s courage.

(1) David had experience with God. “The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine.” Read 1 Samuel 17:32-37. If God has not failed you before, your God will not fail you now. If God has always provided your needs before, He will still provide for you. His Word promises you, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11. Look past the size of your fear; remember the size of your God.

(2) David had courage for God’s honor and others’ well-being. “Who is this pagan Philistine that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?. . the God of the armies of Israel that you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:26 and 45 NLT. The situation I faced was not of a scale such as David’s, but I found courage for similar reasons. I had God’s honor to uphold, and people who depended on me to lead with courage and confidence. Courage is not about your safety. True courage is rallied for God’s honor and others’ well-being. “Stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.“ 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV. Being encouraged is volitional more than emotional.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will show courage when time and circumstance require.

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Righteous and Gracious

November 20th, 2014

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” Psalm 145:17 NKJV.

Life is not always fair but God will always be righteous.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “righteous and gracious.”

Children seem to possess a heightened sense of what’s fair or unfair. They have not yet learned that some circumstances and some people are neither righteous nor gracious. It is assumed that if you do what is right all will be well, but that is not accurate. As a pastor and counselor, I have heard many people say, “Life’s not fair!” Of course it’s not; get over it. Life is not always fair but God will always be righteous. “For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians.” Hebrews 6:10 NLT.

Jesus is your example when life seems unfair. “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering . . if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:19-24 NIV. “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Read 1 Peter 3:14-18 NIV.

On occasion, suffering is the natural result of what you have done or left undone. At other times, suffering is not related to your decisions or actions. Asking, “Why,” is seldom productive. I think there is much to be learned from the experience and examples of Daniel’s companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Read Daniel 3:1-30 NIV. They obeyed God; they did what was right; yet they suffered unjustly; but God was with them from beginning to end.

(1) Good people are not exempt from trouble. Truth takes the confusion out of trouble and unfair circumstances. David declared God to be righteous and gracious, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” Psalm 145:17 NKJV. Life is not always fair but God is always gracious.

(2) God will be with you at all times, in all situations. King Nebuchadnezzar was furious by their refusal to bow to his golden image, and committed them to a fiery furnace for their destruction. But they had company they never imagined; the Lord was with them. Astounded, the King saw, “four men walking, unbound and unharmed, in the midst of the fire.” Daniel 3:25 NIV. They experienced God’s company, special fellowship in the worst circumstance possible.

(3) Blessing will be found in suffering, and afterward. “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace . . will Himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 TEV. God will turn your pain into gain.

(4) God will redeem your suffering. People are watching to see if your life and faith work; for many of them, their life does not work and they have little or no faith. God will take the worst that happens to you and create the best result. Everyone has a story to tell. Let your story be a testimony of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

“Then the King promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” Daniel 3:30 NIV. Grace will write your testimony. Your story is not just about your struggles and circumstances; the real story of your life is about God’s provision, protection, and promotion. Even when others are not, God is ever righteous, always gracious. Imagine if others found us more like our Father in Heaven.

Today, my prayer for you is to trust God in every situation and rejoice at all times.

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