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Disappointment

April 12th, 2016

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV.

Disappointment comes from varied sources in assorted sizes.

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

People will not always behave as you expect. Inevitably, you will need to deal with disappointment because that is one of the life’s common experiences. Disappointment comes from varied sources in assorted sizes. Sometimes it happens in a sequence of little things, and at other times occurs more painfully, sudden and unexpected. The word simply means, “not as appointed.”

There are a lot of things that could be described that way; they just don’t turn out according to your plans or preference. The small things produce momentary discomfort that may slow but not stop you. You adjust, recalculate, and resume your journey no worse for wear. Sometimes situations are disappointing; at other times people disappoint, just as you have and will disappoint others.

Usually, people don’t mean to disappoint others. Like the rest of us, people are often self-centered, not thinking of how a word or action will affect others. When a person disappoints you, it feels more personal and difficult than when things or plans don’t happen as you hoped. You cannot choose the actions or control what others do or say; you must choose and control what you do and say. Jesus words were wise and practical when you feel disappointed by others, “If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.” Read Matthew 10:12-14 NIV. Refuse to carry someone else’s relational baggage. Peace of heart and mind is invaluable.

The best way to deal with people who disappoint you is simple: forgive and forget. First, consider yourself and the grace shown to you by God and others. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV. Don’t harbor wrongs done to you; deal with your feelings promptly and thoroughly. Some wrongs were real; some were imagined; and few if any were as bad as they felt at the time.

Now, let’s talk about times when you disappoint others, and yourself. The worst disappointment you will feel is when you fail in a big way and know it – when you let your family down, are not the friend you meant to be, did not do what you knew was right, or do not live up to your own convictions and standards. The best way to deal with that is to “face up, ‘fess up, and forge ahead.” Remember your humanity.

Jesus’ words were plain, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV. It is a dangerous illusion to assume you are perfect, “We have this spiritual treasure like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 TEV.  Yours or others’ failure is not final if you include God.

Today, I pray for you to bring every hurt to the One who cares, heals, and restores.

Disappointment

Christian Communications 2016

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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
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Encouragers

August 8th, 2014

May our Lord Jesus Christ . .  encourage your hearts” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates.

My thoughts and comments today are about “encouragers.”

Disappointment occurs when expectations and assumptions are “not as appointed.” If disappointment lingers or when multiple disappointments occur, discouragement results. Discouragement has an emotional element, but is much more. The emotion disguises a loss of courage to persevere. Inaccurate though such feelings may be, they temporarily persuade you that your current disappointment is predictive of your future. God has good news for you. “Therefore we do not lose heart . . inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”  Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV. Courage is the confidence that God has everything under control and all will be well.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV. When discouraged, read that slowly and frequently. Sometimes, God encourages you by sending an encourager into your situation.

Paul described his need for encouragement. “There was no rest for us . . outside there were conflicts, inside there were fears – have you ever identified with those feelings? – but God who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy . . so was the news he brought . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5-8 NLT. I remember my Dad saying, “Everyone makes others happy. Some when they come and some when they go.” Be like Titus, a joyful presence and carrier of good news.

Everyone needs an encourager, a friend who helps you feel, then believe, that there is reason to be hopeful. You can be a world-class encourager, if you will. Maybe you never assumed that what you could say or do would make any difference. But it does, and you can. The person who waits to only do great things, never does the ordinary things they could have been doing all along that make a difference. Joseph became so good at blessing others that they changed his name to Barnabas, “son of encouragement.” Acts 4:36 NIV.

Encouragement is a gift anyone can give and everyone appreciates. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. Once you see a face brighten by a word shared or a heart lifted by a kindness shown, you will search for every opportunity to encourage others. The practice becomes a habit, then the habit becomes a lifestyle, and the lifestyle becomes contagious.  

There is someone nearby who needs you to be an encourager. The surest way to be perpetually encouraged is to practice the joy of encouraging someone else. When people see you coming, may they feel as Paul did, “At the sight of these men, Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” Acts 28:15 NIV. Good company always brightens a day and blesses a heart.

Today, my prayer is for you to live with courage, encouraging others along the way.

(Bible references are NKJV unless noted.) 11097

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Joy and Rejoicing

December 2nd, 2013

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10 NKJV.

Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “joy and rejoicing.”

For many years, our congregational welcome of the Christmas season has been with exuberant joy, expressing that joy with the Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World; the Lord is come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and Heaven and nature sing.” It is my conviction that the entrance to all the other good things associated with Christmas rests in your personal discovery of the true joy the celebration of His birth can bring into hearts and lives. In fact, any Godly observance of the season that does not begin with and continue in unrestrained rejoicing is inadequate and unworthy of the One we celebrate. Peter describes such joy as being, “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” See 1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV.

An Angel of the Lord announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, saying, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The joy God brings is qualified as excelling; it’s “great joy!” At such news, Heaven joy could not be sparing, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’” Read Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.

Christmas as a holiday has become many things that it needs not be but one thing Christmas, as the birth of the Savior, absolutely must be is to be celebrated with joy and rejoicing, both exuberant and unrestrained. Joy is your choice; rejoicing is your personal expression of joy. Joy abides within every redeemed person, sovereignly placed there by God. The Bible is clear; included among the other attributes the Spirit of God imparts is: “The fruit of the Spirit is . . joy.” Galatians 5:22 NKJV.

Rejoicing is an outwardly visible expression of joy which may become impacted by outward circumstances, but joy, God given and resident in one’s heart and spirit, is untouched by circumstance. Paul describes such a moment, “The grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 NKJV.

Peter affirms the same truth, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice . . [that] you may be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV. Don’t be deceived by your feelings or current circumstances. The emotions of pain and disappointment may seem to lessen or eliminate joy. If God is in you, His joy is in you as well. “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV.

Here is a truth about joy and rejoicing. Joy is the original initiative of God; rejoicing is always at your initiative. Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy. Rejoicing, like faith or the giving of thanks, is an act of a sanctified will, independent of emotions or situation. This is the way that works. The greater your joy, the greater your rejoicing. Likewise, the greater your rejoicing, the greater your joy becomes. God gave you the power to renew or release joy anew.

My prayer for you today is that your joy is fully evidenced in your rejoicing.

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Wilderness Experiences

March 18th, 2013

“He . . guided them in the wilderness . . and He led them safely.” Psalm 78:52 NKJV.

Jesus identifies with your struggle and invites you to identify with His success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wilderness experiences.”

Everyone will spend some time in “a wilderness.” A wilderness experience is where and when you feel alone. You are somewhere unfamiliar, uncomfortably betwixt and between, not where you were nor where you want to be. The Bible references “a wilderness” as a place removed or apart, or a place barren and lacking. Life will include those moments and places. At the least, wilderness experiences are uncomfortable.

There is always a danger of knowingly walking apart from the will of God and experiencing the dearth of fellowship and spiritual emptiness that result. But at times, life’s journey may simply take you through things you do not choose. Among a litany of such experiences, The Apostle Paul wrote of “perils in the wilderness.” Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV. Wilderness experiences hold perils for those unprepared.

A wilderness is not as much geographical as the experience of emotional, relational, or spiritual lack; more than a place, it’s a difficult time – a circumstance and time when your heart feels adrift, your future seems uncertain. Wilderness experiences may be triggered by hurtful misunderstandings, false accusations, serious illness, financial lack, painful divorce, unemployment, loneliness, discouragement, loss of direction, or many things really.

In such wilderness experiences, it is easy to become lost, beginning to think the worst and fear there is no way out. Disappointment – “things not as appointed” -leads to discouragement; discouragement brings disillusionment; disillusionment results in despair.

Israel’s wilderness was a detour they chose out of fear and lack of trust, yet God was there with them. A wilderness was neither God’s intention nor their final destination, just an experience along their journey. “He . . guided them in the wilderness like a flock; and He led them safely, so that they did not fear . .” Psalm 78:52-53 NKJV. In every uncertain time, be sure of God and His Word.

The wilderness can weaken you, leaving you vulnerable. Very honestly, the Bible says, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1-3 NKJV. Read Luke 2:4-13 NKJV. When the Devil appealed to Jesus’ humanity – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16-17 NKJV) – and misapplied the Holy Scriptures, Jesus responded clearly and firmly with the truth. Indeed, the “truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV. Here is the good news: “[Jesus] was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV. Jesus identifies with your struggle and invites you to identify with His success.

Jesus prevailed by knowing, trusting, and confessing God’s Word; that’s the same way and only way you will prevail in your wilderness experiences. The Bible is your wilderness survival guide. Luke reports, “And Jesus returned [from the wilderness] in the power of the Spirit.” Luke 4:14 NKJV. In your wilderness, you will not be alone; with the Word of God within and the Holy Spirit empowering, and God alongside, you will come out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit with your faith intact.

My prayer for you this day is that you will walk with God confidently.

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