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Purity Produces Clarity

November 16th, 2017

Walk uprightly with conviction and clarity.

 “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are that,

“Purity Produces Clarity.”

I am assuming you have read my most recent comments on, “Clarity or Ambiguity.” If not, take a few minutes to do so at: allenrandolph.com. I would like to continue a bit on this important theme – the necessity of purity as the basis for moral and spiritual clarity. In a confused, uncertain, and less than clear world, clarity is a rare but valuable commodity. Too many people live in a relational, moral, and spiritual fog. Not much seems clear about matters that are vital.

Our culture, media, and popular opinions offer mixed assumptions and confusing answers, of which Jesus warned, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?” Read Luke 6:39-42 NKJV. The answer is obvious; the results are debilitating. Without purity life is confusing. Too many people are sorely burdened by their past and woefully uninformed and unprepared for eternity. Too many marriages and families struggle without enduring truth as their foundation. As a result, far too many marriages stumble forward with increasing dismay and the resulting disarray.

Making sense of daily life and finding purpose and meaning require God’s truth, not man’s opinions. God’s Word provides the answers you lack and the wisdom you need. Jesus taught eight simple, practical principles for a life that God promises to bless. Among those, Jesus affirmed that, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 NIV. Do you see the connection? Purity is necessary for spiritual clarity.

I am inspired by the clarity of Daniel’s conviction. In a hostile culture and with every pressure to conform,“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. As Daniel did, set the Word of God as foremost in your heart and daily practice. Walk uprightly with conviction and clarity. Jesus directly connected the purity of your heart with your ability to recognize truth and comprehend God.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV. The principle applies broadly. The more your heart is cleansed by God’s Word, the clearer your understanding and the more consistent your obedience. The Psalmist wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul . . The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Read Psalm 19:7-10 NKJV.

Jesus often used stories, examples, or analogies to present a practical truth. On one such occasion, He asked, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? . . First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Read Matthew 7:3-5 NIV. Clarity about Who God is, what His Word says, and who you are in Christ are essential and invaluable. But from where does such clarity come?

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NIV.  Writing to Timothy, his young protégé, Paul summarized God’s calling and expectation, “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV. That’s a big order, but not too big for the Holy Spirit to reproduce in you. Read Galatians 5:22-23 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to be sure about the things that need to be clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2017

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Roots and Fruit

March 1st, 2017

Your influences determine your natural expressions

 May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” Ephesians 3:17 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “roots and fruit.”

You gradually become more like the persons you admire and choose as companions. You may not intend to do so; you may not even notice when that is happening, but your relationships shape the process of who you are becoming. Unnoticeably, you will begin to think like, talk like, and act like the people you are most frequently with and most comfortable being around. The strongest influence you allow will eventually determine your most honest and natural expressions. Those influences could be the friends you seek, as well as the music you prefer, the books you read, the movies you attend, the television programs you watch, or the people you envy or admire. Regarding those things, what do you presently see expressed from your life, through your opinions, attitudes, vocabulary, choices, values, priorities, or lifestyle?

Now, consider the vast difference when God and His Word are the strongest influences in your daily life. Spend time with God. You will notice the difference. What about you could be – should be – different and better than you are now? The Apostle Paul offers a description of the sordid expressions of your natural enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. See Galatians 5:19-21 NLT. Paul contrasts that with the beauty the Holy Spirit brings into your life. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV.

Let those spiritual qualities describe what you really want your life to be. The Bible describes the process; “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your life will produce these evil results . . but when the Holy Spirit controls your life, He will produce this kind of (Christ-like) fruit in us.” Galatians 5:19/22 NLT. Your choice makes a difference, for better or worse. The worst expressions come from your carnal, unholy flesh. Christ-like expressions come from the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.

The problem is not as evident as it may at first seem. The root is the problem, not the fruit. For better or worse, fruit merely reflects the life that is at its source. Be clear about this. Symptoms are external and superficial; they only reflect the problem. The source is internal and always influential. You waste your time trying to control the fruit, when you should first choose the right Source. Jesus said, As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” See John 15:1-8 NKJV. Time spent with God’s Word and Holy Spirit is valuable beyond price, transforming everything about you in the best possible way.

Today, I pray “. . that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT.

Christian Communications 2017

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Achieving Your Potential

November 4th, 2014

“Stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV.

Spiritual disciplines determine spiritual potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “achieving your potential.”

Your innate desire to be more than you have been is from God. You have a God-given potential to become more than you have imagined. Boundaries are limits imposed by yourself or others. You were created “in the image and likeness of God.” Imagine the potential, presently and eternally, that God has invested in you. The only uncertainty is whether you will recognize and realize the divine potential within you. When you think of “achieving your potential,” what do you envision? Your capabilities will likely be more than your accomplishments.

Recognition of potential is the prerequisite for achieving potential. Paul described Godly potential this way: “That you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 NIV. Do those words – “standing firm . . mature . . fully assured” – describe you? They can. Achieving your potential does not just happen; the process requires purpose and priority, as well as sacrifice. And add patience, perseverance, and obedience to that list. Your full potential, being “mature and fully assured,” rests upon your priority and practice of living fully within the will of God.

Spiritual maturity is the pathway to your potential. “. . that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 NIV. Maturity is not measured by comparison with others. Paul warned of those who, “. . measure themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12. Jesus is the only adequate and accurate standard for comparison. Not only is Jesus the standard by which you will be measured, He is the willing accomplice for all of your spiritual accomplishment.

Spiritual maturity is the goal; becoming like Jesus is the process. Be patient; your spiritual potential is achieved progressively in a process that is lifelong. “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT. In the simplest of terms, spiritual maturity can be described as Christ-likeness. See Romans 8:28. There is very good news about this process. John wrote, “We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Read 1 John 3:1-3 NIV. Usually, we seem unclear as to the practical implications of Christ-likeness. Here is a useful, practical definition that has helped me. “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” In every circumstance, a good question to ask is, “What would Jesus do?”  Your natural tendencies do not lend themselves to spiritual achievement.

Spiritual disciplines govern spiritual potential. (1) God’s Word is essential to spiritual life. “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise . .” Colossians 3:16-17 NLT. Spiritual maturity is achieved through a growing knowledge of the Word of God and a deepening obedience to the ways of God. (2) Welcome the Holy Spirit to rule your heart. “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do . . let the Holy Spirit fill and control you . . making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God.” Ephesians 5:17-20 NLT. See Galatians 5:8-10/22-23. (3) Make prayer a daily priority. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV. See Philippians 4:6-7 NIV. (4) Let love be your lifestyle. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John  13:34.

Today, my prayer for you is to refuse limits that prevent your being all that God intends.

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Being Submissive

February 7th, 2014

“God blesses those who are gentle and lowly.” Matthew 5:5 NLT.

Your natural desire is to be assertive; the spiritual choice is to be submissive.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being submissive.”

Recently, I heard a person described as “having lost their filter.” That could probably be true of any of us some of the time. Without deliberation, words can be inconsiderate. With some people it’s a matter of words not being monitored; for a few it may be strong opinions not being moderated; for others it could be emotions not being managed. A measure of disciplined self-restraint is wise.

From Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we have thus far considered the “poor in spirit – those who prize nothing of their own to boast, and to whom God gives all He has to offer,” and “those who mourn a pain they cannot bear, to whom God gives what He alone can provide.” Let’s now examine those Jesus described as, “meek.” They possess, “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4 NKJV.

(3) Being submissive. To those who embrace submission, an expansive circle welcomes them. “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” Matthew 5:5 NLT. In his letter to Titus, Paul wrote, “Remind the people to be . .  peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:1-2 NIV. That’s quite a challenge for all of us, but possible when you choose to walk in obedience. Submission brings you into the blessings of the disciplines of God. Your natural desire is to be assertive; your spiritual decision is to become submissive to God. Solomon discovered, ”It is better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32 NLT.

The character qualities of being “gentle and lowly” describe the attribute of meekness, not to be confused with weakness despite the phonetic similarity. The two are nothing alike. A meek person is mindful of others’ rights, but their own responsibility. Meekness requires moral and spiritual strength. The Greeks described meekness as a powerful horse who submitted to the bit and reins. See James 3:3 NIV. Biblically, meekness is defined as, “disciplined strength under control.” 1 Peter 2:19-23 NIV.

“The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God . .  who follow His directions, and comply with His designs, and are gentle towards all men; who can bear provocation; either remain silent or return a soft answer; and who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Jesus is the prime example; “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 NKJV. Self-control is not discovered within yourself; such ability comes from obeying the Word of God and submitting to the Holy Spirit. See Galatians 5:22-23 NIV. “Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance . .” Read 1 Timothy 4:8-10 NIV.

God blesses those who are willing to live exemplary, Christ-like lives, “. . for the whole earth will belong to them.” I am not altogether sure of all that His promise involves, but it is true and will be grand.

My prayer for you today is that you discover the joy of a meek and gentle spirit.

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Spirit Filled

March 16th, 2010

“Be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NIV

“Bring to God a sincere and humble heart to receive a fresh release of His Spirit everyday.”

My thoughts today are about being “Spirit filled.”

I have seen the picturesque, Dutch windmills in Holland that harnessed the wind’s power as early as the 14th century, and Texas windmills drawing water from wells on ranches far from the reach of electrical service, and the modern, towering wind turbines capturing the energy of prevailing winds converted to kinetic energy.  What a picture of the power of the Holy Spirit breathing into a Christ-follower’s life.

Are you trying to live everyday life in your own strength – to be what you should be by your resolve and determination – to understand life’s complexities and uncertainties by your limited knowledge and experiences – struggling to do all the things you should by your natural strength and ability? How is that working for you? Not too well, I would imagine.

Here’s some good news about all of that. You were never intended to live within those confining, self-imposed limits. Your best effort will fall short of success – due to inadequate resource, deficient knowledge, and lack of life-experience.

God has provided the power you need to live joyfully and victoriously. Anything less than that leaves you drinking from an empty cup. You don’t need a little bit of God’s help; all – everything – God offers you will be required. You need to pray as Paul prayed, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen (me) with power through His Spirit in (my) inner being, so that Christ may dwell in (my) heart through faith . . that (I) may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18 NIV.

The Bible commands you, “Be filled with the Spirit!” And know this, God’s power cannot be stored up.  Today’s strength will not stretch to cover tomorrow’s demands. The life of power you desire requires your bringing to God a sincere and humble heart to receive a fresh release of His Spirit everyday. The literal translation of today’s verse would more clearly be stated this way, “Be (being) filled with the Spirit,” progressively and continuously, in the measure each day demands and your faith requires. Inner power is a work in process everyday!

The word the Holy Spirit chose to describe this daily empowering is a picture of a sail boat with its sails intentionally set to harness the energy of the wind, and then moving responsively and powerfully under its sheer power. It describes the kinetic effect of a life responding to the wind of the Spirit rather than the passive filling of some measure or volume. See Acts 1:8 NIV.

And what will be the visible and practical impact of being filled with the Spirit? Your life will evidence the character of Christ. “When the Holy Spirit controls your life, He will produce this kind of fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . if you are living now by the spirit, follow the spirit’s leading in every part of your life.” Galatians 5:22-23/25 NLT. The secret is simply allowing the Spirit’s control, following His leading everyday in every part of your life.

My prayer for you today is that you breathe deeply of the invigorating Spirit of God.

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