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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Loving Discourse Lessens Discord

June 12th, 2018

Communication enables mutual understanding.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

My thoughts and comments today consider that, “loving discourse lessens discord.”   

Kind and sincere communication is a gift that we give to one another. Communication connects and unifies people. I love a simple, beautiful verse: “Grace is poured upon Your lips.” Psalm 45:2 NKJV. What would your life and relationships look like if grace poured from your lips? Loving discourse lessens discord. In contrast, our world is so torn because individuals persist in being right, however high the price is paid in their dearest relationships. Whether in a marriage, family, friendship, or church, the relationship is left the victim when loving communication breaks down.

Sadly and widely, both public and private discourse seem course today, evidencing less and less grace. Why do we choose dispute over concurrence? Conversations are essential for social interactions and profitable commerce. Communication enables effective collaboration to bring about mutually beneficial understandings. The interaction that communication requires is not optional. Sincere and meaningful communication offers significant benefits such as: proper discourse unifies people, decides purpose, defines progress, and produces greater achievements. Real community is possible only to the extent or limitation of real discussions.

Language is a gift, possessing the power to unite or divide us. A wise person considers their words. Words have potential for good or ill, can help or hurt, heal or wound, increase understanding or create confusion. Your words are always within your authority to speak or remain silent. Speak after forethought and prayerful reflection. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge.” Proverbs 15:1-2 NIV.

With clarity and authority, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Read Proverbs 4:20-24 NIV. Ask yourself, “Are my words honestly intended, edifying to others, and glorifying to God.”

With King David, we should pray from our heart that our words and thoughts would be these, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. And how can we keep our words and thoughts pleasing in the sight of God and others? Pray as David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV.

Today I pray for you to choose your words to always be both true and kind.

Christian Communications 2018

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Affirmation and Expectations

August 19th, 2017

Affirmation is more powerful than expectation. 

 “Look for the best in each other and do your best to bring it out.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 MSG

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Affirmation and Expectations.”

In my observation, a person’s reasonable expectations of others are typically proven to be true, whether for the better or worse. Usually, a child or teen lives up to what is communicated as expected. Of course, there are times that generality may fail to apply, just as happens with adults. But people who look for good in others usually find good. Conversely, people who have lower expectations for others ordinarily find what they’re looking for, as well.

When people truly like people and themselves strive to be their best, they typically assume goodness in others also. This seems supported by the Apostle Paul’s description to Titus, “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.” Titus 1:15 NLT. If you expect people to disappoint, they probably will. Check your own heart first. Sometimes, what you readily see in others may merely be a reflection of your own heart.

Faults ignored in yourself can seem glaring in others. With deliberate exaggeration, Jesus highlighted the folly of ignoring your faults while judging another’s faults. “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye . . when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? . . first, get rid of the log in your own eye, then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42 NLT. Specks and logs. Take care of the worst first.

The Bible provides a clear objective. “Look for the best in each other and always do your best to bring it out . . this is the way that God wants you who live in Christ Jesus to live.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15/18 MSG. Do you consistently look for the best in others? Inclination, interest, attention, and a listening heart are essential relational skills to see the best when others are too preoccupied elsewhere to notice. God asks you to see the good in others that might otherwise be overlooked. You can reinforce that good with your benevolent expectation and sincere affirmation. In children and adults alike, what is affirmed is repeated. God’s grace in another’s life deserves to be affirmed. Affirmation is more powerful than expectation. You may not always get what you expect from others, but you will likely see what you affirm.

Along my spiritual journey, there have been many gracious people who saw things of God in me that I dared not assume for myself. They affirmed those qualities and abilities, and then tirelessly supported their further growth and development. My friend, Don, reminded me of once saying to him years earlier, “Thank you for not letting me be what I would have been without your friendship.” My words were accurate; his expectations and affirmation prompted my desire to be better and encouraged my efforts to do better. I really hope, in some measure, I have been that kind of friend for others.

To my parents, teachers, friends, and especially my remarkable wife and family whose affirmation and companionship make me better, thank you. Consider whose friendship makes you a better person than might have happened without them. Whatever credit accrues to you for character or accomplishments is rightly shared with them. Thank God for them, and be sure to thank them. And do better than tell them; write them so they can read it again and again and be continuously encouraged.

Today, I pray for you to recognize the many contributors to your achievements.

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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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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The Joy of Generosity

February 17th, 2015

”He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NIV.

Generosity blesses the recipient and enriches the giver.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the joy of generosity.”

EDL pix generositySome years ago my friend, Harold, piqued my interest with these words, “What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.” That is a Biblical principle affirmed in both Old and New Testaments. If you need encouragement, find others to encourage. If you need friendship, be a friend to those who need a friend. There is always someone whose need is greater than yours. Give out of your own need until you can give out of your surplus. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” Ephesian 6:8 NIV. Be the one who meets the needs of others, and God will be the One who meets yours.

Those times when your generosity seems not to be noticed or reciprocated, remember your reward comes from God, not man. And God keeps immaculate records. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10 NIV. I remember my grandfather saying, “God will be no man’s debtor.” God counts every benevolence as generosity toward Him. Jesus described a day when everyone will stand before God as their generosity or lack thereof is reviewed. “Come you who are blessed by My Father . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Read Matthew 25:31-41 NIV.

Know this; liberality enriches you, leaving you with more not less. Generosity blesses the recipient and enriches the giver. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. You may think that you cannot afford to be generous; the truth is that you cannot afford to not be generous. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV. Generosity opens your life to the abundance of God while enriching the lives of others. I suggest that some measure of a person’s lack may even be the result of how little they give, rather than how little they have. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35.

Liberality is a lifestyle issue. “As you abound in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us – see that you abound in this grace (of giving) also.” 2 Corinthians 8:7. Generosity is not only about money and things, it is about a lifestyle of generosity – in your words to and about others, offering encouragement, being positive, and giving praise – in a lifestyle of unrestrained expression for others’ kindness – by consideration and thoughtfulness where it would not be expected – in helpfulness through giving your time or lending a helping hand – and by tolerance and forgiveness for others’ shortcomings.

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously . . for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work . . so that you can be generous on every occasion.” Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 NIV. See Galatians 6:7-10 NIV. In the time of harvest the work and weariness of sowing is never regretted.

Today, my prayer for you is that what you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.

Christian Communications, Inc.

(Bible verses are NKJV unless noted)

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