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Connections

March 13th, 2015

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

When shared with a friend, sorrows are divided but joys are multiplied.

My thoughts and comments today are about “connections.”

ED pix connecting

Life can be lonelier than it’s meant to be. Loneliness results from a lack of meaningful and mutual connections with others. You can feel lonely in the company of a crowd but loved in the companionship of a friend. Godly companionship is nurturing to the soul in good times and nurses the wounds in difficulties. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17.

The Bible tells the story of Naomi. Read Ruth 1:1-22 NIV. In a famine, Elimelech and Naomi, with their two sons left Bethlehem for Moab seeking a better life. Elimelech died and their sons married Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah. Within 10 years, both sons died, leaving their Moabite wives as widows. Tragedy left Naomi and her daughters-in-law with a shared sorrow. As often happens, in their common dilemma they discovered a shared life. In Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep and the lost coin, each story concludes with these words, “When he has found it, He calls together his friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me.’” Luke 15:6-7. When shared with a friend, sorrows are divided but joys are multiplied.

Longing to return home to Bethlehem after her tragic loss in Moab, Naomi urged Ruth and Orpah to remain in Moab. But Ruth voiced her sense of Godly connection with Naomi. What began as incidental became personal and mutual. In their shared experience, God connected their hearts in a way they could not have anticipated. Ruth’s response to Naomi was definitive, “Where you go, I will go; where you stay, I will stay; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die, I will die.” Ruth 1:16-17 NIV. Their destiny became linked in Godly ways of mutual affirmation and blessing. Godly connections are engendered by recognition that God’s purposes envelop a common future. I love the providential occasion of their return to Bethlehem, “They came at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22. Naomi left for Moab in a famine but in the loving benevolence of God they returned from Moab at the time of harvest. Maybe your harvest is just ahead also.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24. Ruth affirmed her conviction and personal commitment, in the most practical way. In Ruth’s words are relevant truths about mutual connections. (1) Connection requires proximity and priority of time. “Where you go, I will go; where you stay I will stay.” Self-absorption and busyness minimize meaningful connection. Make time to be together purposefully and take the importance of that seriously. (2) Connection includes room for others. “Your people will be my people.” Exclusiveness and possessiveness diminishes the life God means to flow freely. (3) Connections occur when God is at the center. “Your God will be my God.” Connections require a bond with spiritual orientation and purpose. (4) Connections require significant commitment. “Where you die, I will die.” Friendships can grow and deepen over a lifetime; stay committed to them. Value and protect meaningful connections where God is directing and blessing.

I am privileged to enjoy such friendships, and hope that I can be such a friend. Though there must be some things enjoyed in common, they are usually not the more superficial things you might think, such as age, social status, or personality. I cherish friendships with people both older and younger, of diverse personalities from mine, of both modest means and wealth, and of varied experiences and interests. But there is one very important thing that we share in common that strengthens the life connection we enjoy – our common faith and commitment to Jesus. Lasting connections will have a spiritual commonality with people on a journey whose destination is as yours.

I love the providential timing of Naomi’s return to Bethlehem, “They came at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22. Naomi left for Moab in a famine but in the benevolence of God they returned from Moab at the time of harvest. Maybe your harvest is just ahead also.

Today, my prayer for you is that you provide others the company you enjoy.

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Harvest Time

November 24th, 2011

A Blessed Day of Thanksgiving! I am thankful to God for you, and the privilege you allow me of sharing my thoughts and comments of the practical wisdom of God’s precious word. Doing so makes my life richer, and your occasional notes of how God uses His Word in your lives makes me rejoice with gratitude to God for His faithfulness to “watch over His word to perform it.” Gayle and I wish the most blessed of seasons . . EveryDay Life is not likely to be every day for a week or so, due to travel and ministry opportunities away from home. I hope you will use the occasion to browse the archive here at the website – www.allenrandolph.com. There you will find 675+ devotionals from past seasons on diverse, but hopefully, helpful and practical topics and Bible verses.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

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“I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV

“Tough times are not the time to look for an exit. Instead, look for the lesson.”

My thoughts today are about “harvest time.”

Circumstances distracted and misdirected Naomi. Read Ruth 1-4. She, her husband and two sons, experienced the difficult season of a famine, so they left their home and moved to Moab, to put the tough times behind them. Surely things would be better there, but they weren’t better. They wrongly assumed another place would be better when things are not good where you are.

Tough times are not the time to look for an exit. Instead, look for the lesson. You grow more in adversity than in prosperity, but you must keep a Godly perspective of your problems and confidence in God. While still in my teens, I remember my Father observing, “There are more people who can stand adversity than can handle prosperity.” I have since observed the truth of that.

Uzziah reigned as a king, until it was said of him, “He was marvelously helped until he was strong. When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction for he transgressed against the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 29:15-16 NKJV. Prosperous times have their hazards, as can adverse times. Prosperous times encourage the faulty assumption that you need God less and are in charge and independent. Adverse times may suggest that all is lost, and you now need to do a better job of looking out for yourself. Both are misleading.

Naomi and her family had gone to Moab thinking it was their solution, but soon their problems grew worse. In Moab, Naomi’s sons married, but later through tragic circumstances died, as had her husband. She was now left in a foreign land with only her two Moabite daughters-in-law, and determined to return home to Bethlehem. I love the timing of her return – “she heard in Moab that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread . . now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of harvest.” Ruth 1:6/22. What great news to hear and what a good time to come home. Home and harvest are always a good place and a great time!

She left in a famine, but with all of her family. She returns at harvest. When you lose what you love most, a famine is a small thing. Now Naomi sees life as it is, not as she wished it were, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV. What she failed at first to see was that “the Lord has brought me back.” Your Father always will, if you let Him. And when was that? “At the beginning of the barley harvest!” God has a harvest for you that wipes away all the loss of a famine. Of course, she didn’t yet know what God had prepared for her upon her return. See 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT. Read the book of Ruth, just four brief chapters, but the most amazing story of God’s hand and blessing.

Know this: happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; happiness is found in appreciating what God has given you. In tough times you learn what matters most to you – relationships and people; they matter more than things. Right now is always a good time to start counting your blessings! They always outnumber your problems.

My prayer for you today is: find God’s place of fullness for you, and stay in His will.

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