Archive

Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’

A Sacrificial Life

May 26th, 2017

Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing one’s life is noble

“If you give up your life for Me, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 CEV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“A Sacrificial Life.”

This weekend our country will observe Memorial Day, remembering and honoring the men and women, and their families, who have served our nation and the lives sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy. I live in a military city with multiple military bases and hospitals. A significant number of the families of our community are either veterans or active duty military. When I meet veterans or see the faces of young soldiers serving bravely in far-flung reaches of our troubled world, I am humbled by the courage of the men and women who pledge their lives for the safety and sake of others.

They do not regard life as expendable or to be cheaply sacrificed. In contrast, more than most, they clearly see the incalculable value of life and yet are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. Only the person who would willingly sacrifice their own life has truly realized how precious life really is. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV.

A few months ago, I received treasured, family heirlooms from my cousin – faded news clippings and the Purple Heart my uncle received while serving with the United States Marine Corps in WW II. Like so many young men, my Uncle Ralph was wounded in battle in the Mariana Islands, and after months of recovery was then a casualty in the assault of an enemy island, and was ultimately listed as, “missing in action.” He was my Dad’s older brother. For his sacrifice, he was revered in the Randolph family and his loss impacted my Dad, grandparents, and my uncle and aunt for their lifetimes. I only knew him through his picture as a Marine, displayed in a place of honor in my grandparents’ home.

If men and women will sacrifice their lives for freedom, love of country, and the safety of their families, should we who are called by His Name and redeemed by His sacrifice not give our lives in His service and the advance of His Kingdom? Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing life for God and others is noble. “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV.

Jesus’ call to discipleship remains the same today, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25 NIV. Those last words pose a haunting question for every soul. The reward of your sacrifice in His Name by far exceeds the cost. Jesus was clear and His promise certain, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29-30 NIV.

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within hearts where He dwells. Sacrifice means living for something, and Someone, greater than yourself. In Christ’ name, we are all asked to lay down our lives in service to others. This weekend, as you recall the price others paid for your freedom, remember the price the Savior paid for your salvation.

Today, I pray for you to value your life as a gift to be given back to God and others.

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

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

Sacrifice

April 28th, 2017

Squandering life is a terrible waste,

while sacrificing one’s life is a noble gift

“I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as

living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God;

this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV.

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

Life is a precious, priceless gift. Never regard life as expendable, insignificant, or to be cheaply given. Yet Jesus issued a crucial call to discipleship. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 NIV. In 1956, Jim Elliot, a 28-year-old missionary pilot, was one of five missionaries martyred by Huaorani Indians in Ecuador. In his personal journal, he had written, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” How very true!

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within the heart that He created, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” Luke 9:24 NIV. Jesus does not depreciate your life as unimportant or without supreme value. But what did Jesus mean when He required that you, “lose your life”? Would it mean to trade a few years here for an eternity with God? Could it mean to live for something and Someone much greater than yourself? Yes, that must be it, sacrificing something you treasure for something that you would treasure even more, as well as forever.

Jesus told the story about a merchant trading in pearls. Fine pearls were admired by him, acquired by him, and prized by him until the day he saw a pearl unlike any other, more magnificent than any he ever hoped to own. In all his life and journeys, nothing could compare.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46 NIV. Its price to some would have seemed extreme, but not to him. Everything he possessed and valued was an inconsequential sacrifice for the priceless thing he would receive in exchange. Jesus Himself and His Eternal Kingdom are that “Pearl of great price.”

Jesus was unapologetic when He said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29-30 NIV. Squandering your life is a terrible waste, while sacrificing your life for God is a noble gift. Heed Jesus’ warning, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:24-25 NIV. The Great Exchange is when you joyfully surrender what was formerly most precious to you to receive what you never imagined could be yours.

Today, I pray for you to surrender your life as a worthy gift given back to God.

Christian Communications 2017

facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

 

 

 

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

Nature and Nurture

August 11th, 2015

“Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV.

Spiritual nurture is essential for effective and enduring change.

My thoughts and comments today are about “nature and nurture”

This morning, comments from my friend, Shane, prompted some reflection on the origin of behavior and development of character. It seems the debate ultimately centers on the influences of nature or nurture. Both are influential. Nature forms who you have been, expressed by what comes naturally to you for better or worse – your habitual reactions, possessive inclinations, prejudices, self-willed, or self-centered.

My friend cautioned about trusting nature over nurture, “Leave it to nature and you leave a blank canvas [for yourself and] others to paint on.” We were all conceived in sin, meaning that we were born into a fallen world, possessing a fallen nature, and separated from God and Christ. Paul accurately described life apart from Christ, “O wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Read Romans 7:18-25 NKJV.

Conversely, nurture instructs and guides your values, traits, convictions, and conduct, therefore determining who you become. Paul understood our common dilemma but also God’s gracious redemption, “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Read Colossians 3:6-10 NIV.

In Christ, you have the hope and promise of becoming more than you are. “To all who believed Him and accepted Him, [Jesus] gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn!” John 1:12-13 NLT. Paul elaborated further on this remarkable transformation of your old nature, “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 NKJV. Spiritual nurture is essential for effective and enduring change.

The Word of God nurtures Christian growth and Godly character, “[God has] given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature . .” Read 2 Peter 1:2-11 NKJV. Especially note verses 5-9.

The Holy Spirit nurtures discipleship and obedience, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.” Read Romans 8:1-11 NIV.

Spiritual discipline nurtures firm resolve, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Christian Fellowship nurtures spiritual life and growth. “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but exhorting one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV.

For me, these words sum up any debate about nature versus nurture, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV. The remedy for all you have been and the potential for all you can become is found ultimately in Jesus as Lord and Savior. See 1 John 3:2-3 NLT.

Today, I pray for you that you are nurtured in your faith and an encourager to others.

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

The Capacity to Regress

July 28th, 2014

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do.” Romans 7:15 NIV.

Your capacity to regress to unprofitable behaviors is a besetting temptation.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the capacity to regress.”

At times, I am bewildered by how little I really understand about myself. While feeling proud of my progress, I am puzzled by the ease with which I revert to ways and habits I previously found unworthy. As old as I am, that still perplexes me, as it did Paul, “I do not understand what I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV. I surrender progress achieved with much effort and diligence, and find myself closer to where I was than where I need to be. My capacity to regress to unprofitable behaviors is a besetting temptation.

When where you have been still holds attraction, the path of progress can be challenging. Read James 1:12-15. Temptation alone is not sin, but spiritual maturity and Godliness are measured by your recognition and rejection of any temptation to regress to familiar yet ineffective ways of coping with everyday life.

You will never find confidence or growth by returning to options once familiar and places formerly comfortable. As danger threatened or opposition arose, Israel looked over their collective shoulder with misplaced fondness for what they left behind in Egypt. “In their hearts they turned back to Egypt.” Acts 7:39. Read Nehemiah 9:9-17.

Before judging Israel harshly, consider your own temptation to return to negative emotions, old prejudices, wrong attitudes, unworthy appetites, unholy ambitions, or unhealthy habits. Paul encouraged and warned the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

Let me suggest some Biblical examples of regression and suggest their causes, (1) Complicated discipleship, “From that time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” John 6:66-69. (2) Competitive affections,Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10. (3) Confusing circumstances, After Jesus’ death and reports of His resurrection, Peter and other disciples returned to fishing. See John 21:1-5. A vulnerable time is when disappointment in people or situations and the resulting discouragement dissuade you.

Maybe today you identify with the Apostle Paul in his struggle with bewilderment. Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I allow . . for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:15-21 NIV.

In the succeeding verses, Paul confessed his despair over his spiritual frailty.  “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24-25 NLT. I suggest three spiritual practices that bring clarity during bewildering times: God’s Word, (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV), Jesus’ example, (Hebrews 4:14-16), and the Holy Spirit’s empowering, (Acts 1:8/Romans 15:13). In your panic, the answer may first appear to be running back to your weaknesses; God’s answer is fleeing to a safe refuge – into the arms of God. See Proverbs 18:10/Psalm 27:5/91:1-2.

Today, my prayer for you is to set progress as your highest, spiritual priority.

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

Options and Expectations

May 12th, 2014

“Much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” Luke 12:48 TEV.

Discipleship is the process of relinquishing more and more options.

My thoughts and comments today are about “options and expectations.”

I don’t really like that word, “required.” I would much prefer God used the word, “optional.” But He doesn’t. There is really not much about life that is optional. You will discover that things that require little and are left to your option do not promise much if any reward. Here is a principle of life: assuming an increased level of responsibility is the only path to truly growing. That’s true in matters spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

That means accepting less as being optional for you and embracing more than is expected of you, even when wanting to do otherwise. Discipleship is the continuing process of relinquishing more and more options. To some, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” To others, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23-24 NIV. You must learn to joyfully take responsibility for your decisions, mistakes, well being, success, and happiness, not from any insistence of independence but as just doing what is expected – simply being responsible.

The Bible speaks of many things that are required in your Christian faith, not optional. Faith in Jesus is non-negotiable, required not optional. See Hebrews 11:6 NLT. Responsible stewardship is required, not optional. Paul wrote, “It is required that those who have been given a trust prove faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV.

“And much more is required from the person to whom much more is given!” Luke 12:48 TEV. Jesus said that when accepting all that has been generously given to you by God and man, “much more will be required.” The more you are given, the more that is required of you, and that only increases as you grow and progress. That seems only fair. Refuse what’s required and you do not continue to experience generosity in the same measure. There is a proportion to daily life that should not be avoided.

Let’s be practical about this: doing what’s required means giving up your right to make excuses, or exempting yourself from your fair share, or expecting of others more than you require of yourself . When I was preparing for a life in ministry, my Dad taught me this practical wisdom and necessity for effective leadership: “Never expect someone to do what you are not willing to do, nor expect them to give what you are not willing to give, nor expect others to go where you have not first gone.”

My prayer for you today is that you will fulfill realistic expectations, and so much more than expected.

51409

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , ,