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Faith, Family, and Friendships

August 30th, 2017

Faith, family, and friends are essential to Life

The Father is the One who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faith, Family and Friendships.”

I recognize three Biblical and irreplaceable priorities in my life. In this order, those priorities are: my faith, my family, and my friends. All are significant, but their order is important. Priorities clarify and simplify daily life. When you are right with God, you have the guidance of His Word and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to get all other relationships right. If that personal, relationship is lacking, even the best of the other relationships is less than its potential. There is a temptation you must resist. God’s Word is clear. “Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.” James 4:4 NLT.

And prioritizing family is a Godly assignment with eternal accountability. Family can either be your fulfilling joy or will become one’s greatest sorrow and regret. The Bible has much wisdom and guidance for the relationships of husbands and wives, as well as parents and children. As your fellowship with God is resource for your family relationships, your Godly, family relationships have so much to do with the potential quality of your personal friendships.

Now, let’s talk about friends and friendships. God established the truth that, “two are better than one.” Solomon advised that righteous friendships make you are more successful, secure, satisfied, and stronger. See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV. I have found friends and friendships to be foundationally vital to health and happiness. Friendships are not  optional; they are essential. Life is less, much less, without the company and fellowship of true friends. God’s Word provides a lot of wisdom about friends and friendships. The Bible presents many exemplary friendships – Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Daniel and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Paul and Barnabas, as well as Jesus and the Disciples.

Friendships are based on a simple principle. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV. Be the friend you hope to have. The character of friendships entrusted to you reflect the friend you have chosen to be to others. I am very grateful for the many friends who have included me in their lives. I am better than I would have been without them. I hope my God, my family, and my friends would feel the same about our relationship.

I think the following verses provide the Biblical origin and foundation for all of this. “For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.” Romans 5:10-11 NLT. The spiritual health of your family and the authenticity of your Godly friendships rest upon and flow from the depth and steadfastness of your, “wonderful new relationship with God.”

Today, I pray for you to enjoy life-affirming friendships born of the friend you chose to be.

Christian Communications 2017

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The Company of Friends

June 7th, 2017

Navigating difficulties requires the support of friends.

“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Company of Friends.”

Trouble is a common experience. You won’t always cause it. You won’t always enjoy it. But you can and must learn from it. Trouble is never enjoyable, but it can yield a maturity of life and faith that is learned in no other way. Trouble can be faced with faith, not fear. The Bible says, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow.” Read James 1:2-5 NLT.

According to James, there are three elements which develop character and spiritual growth. Trouble – on occasion, everyone experiences troubled times or troubling people. Time – you must exercise patience and endurance to rightly learn from trouble. Truth – Godly perspective brings wisdom. Trouble is something you will have; time is something you must give; truth is something you must learn and in which you must be confident.

Among the things I have learned about trouble, this is most important. Navigating difficulties successfully requires the company and support of friends. Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one . . if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble . .” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT. Value those friends who will accompany you in your struggles and sorrows. Everyone needs someone alongside on their journey.

When you face troubled times or troubling people, which the Bible calls, “tribulation and persecution,” there are two questions your soul ponders about friendship. Are you there for me? And, do you care for me? Prize the gift of those friends who offer their company and compassion when you struggle most. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need . . As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 17:17/27:18 NLT.

Jesus taught a simple yet profound truth, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT. Be that kind of friend to others. My Dad taught me a valuable lesson about the responsibility and mutuality of friendship. By his words and example, he taught me that, “You will have the kind of friends that you choose to be for others.”

I have learned the irreplaceable value of friendships. Friendship is a treasure not available for purchase or barter, and a treasure nothing else can replace. I am grateful for friends who have invited me to share their lives and inspired me to live the best version of God’s plan for my life.

Fortunately, even when no one else can be there for you – when they cannot, or will not – God is there! “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10 NIV. Though the dearest of friends may not be able to be near, God can and will be there for you always. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear . .” Psalm 46:1-2 NIV. Though any circumstance and emotion may suggest differently, God is ever present. Always cares. Always there. “For God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be confident in God and His care for you.

Christian Communications 2017-6810

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Better Together

August 11th, 2014

On a personal note: after this mailing of EDL, Gayle and I will be taking a few weeks to celebrate our 50th anniversary – though a year late! The importance of the occasion and the travel involved dictate that the writing of EveryDay Life be set aside, to resume in September. I will miss the discipline and enjoyment of sharing my thoughts from God’s Word, as well as reading your kind responses and comments, but anticipate resuming my joyful assignment upon our return. During these weeks, let me suggest that you use the option of browsing the archive of more than 1,100 previous devotionals available at the EDL website: www.allenrandolph.com. I look forward to our return and our visits together around God’s amazing and practical Word.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

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“That you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:12 NIV.

Some measure of your success requires the cooperation and contribution of others.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “better together.”

Let me journey a little further on our recent theme of encouragement. The Bible is clear, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. Human nature is a bundle of contradictive inclinations; for example, a person can long for meaningful closeness with others, while at the same time requiring privacy from others. Relational intimacy can seem threatening; isolation can feel discomfiting.

At every level of personality, our fallen natures conflict with the Creator’s intention. At creation, God observed all that He had made, then declared, “It is not good that man should be alone.” God’s solution was, “a companion who will help him.” Genesis 2:18 NLT. God’s assessment is unchanged and His solution remains the same. People need other people.

Jesus chose His disciples, “to be with Him.” Mark 3:14 NKJV. Much of God’s intention for you begins with a call to divine companionship. I think the mention is significant that when Jesus gave His disciples power over unclean spirits and all kinds of disease, He sent them, “two by two.”  Mark 6:7 NKJV. Jesus knew they would face challenges and feel rejection, and partnered them for the mutual encouragement they would require. Together is a better option.

The Bible is full of such examples: Moses and Joshua, David and Jonathan, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, and others. In prison, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life . . bring Mark when you come, for he will be helpful to me.” 2 Timothy 4:10-11 NLT. It is a wise individual who recognizes his or her need for others.

“I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:9-12 NIV. The encouragement of each other’s faith provides a mutual strength.

Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one . . pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV. Solomon reasons that your efforts together are more productive; help is more readily available; comfort is found in company; strength is compounded. Some measure of your success requires the cooperation and contribution of others. You will not reach your full potential without the meaningful fellowship of others. And some measure of others’ accomplishments and fulfillment requires yours. Encouragement is neither complicated nor extravagant; it can be as simply expressed as a genuine interest, a sincere inquiry, an affirming word, a heartfelt prayer, an overture of assistance, or an act of generous benevolence.

Today, my prayer for you is to be as encouraging to others as someone has been to you.

Christian Communications, Inc.

 

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Helping Hands

November 7th, 2012

“Two people . . get a better return for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT.

People hesitant to share credit for what is accomplished will share blame for what fails.

My thoughts and comments today are about “helping hands.”

No person’s success is theirs alone. We are all debtors to others. Nehemiah faced a daunting task. Jerusalem lay in ruins, walls in rubble, gates in disrepair. Jerusalem, once the glory of Israel was now the ridicule of its neighbors. A need had been seen; a dream had been born. Read Nehemiah 1:1-11. God placed in one heart what can only be accomplished with the help of many hands. God placed an assignment within his heart to begin the restoration of this once proud city where God’s Name would again be known. But where would he begin?

Without fanfare or press conferences, Nehemiah first enlisted a few others to quietly survey with him the extent of the work to be done and devise a strategy equal to the task. Success is a process, not a chance occurrence. No one plans to fail, but you must plan to succeed. Nehemiah 2:11-16.

At the proper time, he shared the vision and the need, along with his excitement and assurance with those without whose help he could not accomplish his plan. Nehemiah 2:17-18. The task was no longer his alone; everyone had a part. In record time and with much help from many, Nehemiah could say, “We built the wall . . for the people had a mind to work!” Nehemiah 4:6. Read Nehemiah 3. What God started in one heart succeeded because Nehemiah understood this: the power of all of us working together is greater than any one of us working alone. Sharing the work lightens the task; sharing the credit multiplies the rejoicing.

At Creation, God recognized, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper for him.” Genesis 2:18. That is a life principle that is broader than mere companionship. God’s purposes for your life are bigger than you can do alone and never successful without His help, and the partnership of others.

You were not made to accomplish God’s purposes all by yourself. Self-sufficiency is the enemy of your greatest success. There seems to exist some need to stand alone, to be independent, but your success will be lessened and your satisfaction lacking.

Most of what you achieve, and certainly the best of what you accomplish, will be with the support and assistance of others. “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor . . three are even better.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT. Trust me; God’s way is best. If what God calls you to do seems too big, He will provide the helping hands you need.

There is something else that I have observed. The very people who are most hesitant to share the credit for what is accomplished are often quick to shovel a share of blame for what fails. It is often said, and truly so, there is no limit to what can be done when nobody cares who gets the credit. Personally accept responsibility; generously share the praise; always give God the glory!

My prayer for you today is: lend a hand to others and always have the help you need.

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Real Relationships

August 29th, 2012

“It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV

When mutuality is imbalanced, relational intimacy is elusive.

My thoughts and comments today are about “real relationships.”

Success in life involves establishing mutually beneficial relationships. There will be associations that a person may seek out of their own sense of need or from their willingness to sacrifice to meet another’s need. But the relationships that endure and grow are those that become mutually beneficial – something is given and something is received. Marriage may be the best illustration of this principle. Marriage will be neither satisfactory not successful unless both partners are giving generously and receiving gratefully. When mutuality is imbalanced, relational intimacy is elusive. In a measure, that principle is true in friendships, families, and work relationships as well.

But there is a vast difference between community and being in a crowd. Have you ever wondered why we are drawn to where the crowd is? A crowd can be a lonely place when you are a stranger there. People pack the same venues, sporting events, restaurants, and churches, looking for a place where they are not alone, looking for closeness that is never found in the crowd. The satisfaction and belonging you seek cannot be found in a crowd but is found in fellowship with God and in the surrounding company of Godly community. You were created for community; by God’s design, meaningful community is the setting in which people thrive.

Soon after creation of Adam and as incentive to create Eve, Adam’s helpmate, God declared a truth that is repeated again and again in Scripture, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV. After everything that God created and pronounced, “very good,” God stated clearly that Adam’s relational aloneness was “not good.” Adam had perfect surroundings, safety and security, ample provision, and meaningful responsibilities – literally everything a person could want or need, except for the lack of companionship.

The Psalmist understood the same truth when he observed, “God sets the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6 NKJV. Solomon stated mutual benefits unequivocally, “Two are better than one . . [one] who is alone . . has no one to help him.” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NKJV. And of course, the New Testament is replete with direction about “one another” “love one another, serve one another, forgive one another, comfort one another, edify one another, hospitable to one another, submitting to one another, devoted to one another,” and many, many other such practical expressions of life in community. Salvation is to restore mutual and beneficial relationship with God first, and then with others. See 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NLT.

Friendship is a valuable thing, a design of God Himself for the fullest realization of what He made each person to be and do. My shortcomings and under-achievements are my own doing, not the fault of others. The longer I have lived the more I realize the preponderance of credit goes to others for whatever good I have done and whatever good I have become. At the heart of every meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship, you find the fingerprints of God. When you are ready to be that kind of friend, God makes the proper introductions to have that kind of friends.

My prayer for you today is that you become the friend you wish others to be for you.

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