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Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

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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The Love of Money

August 31st, 2010

“Keep your (life) free from the love of money . . content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

“Money is important because every day you trade a part of your life for it.”

My thoughts today are about “the love of money.”

Do you ever consider how money occupies your time, thought, and efforts? Money is important; there is no doubt about that. Money is important because every day you trade a part of your life for it and for the things it can provide, both necessities and luxuries. It is just not as all-important as you can easily allow it to become.

I have heard a Bible verse badly misquoted by people who say “Money is the root of all evil.” That is not what the Bible says or teaches. Money is just a commodity, neither good nor bad, neither noble nor evil, except for how it is gained and used. You are not a better person for having more of it, nor inferior for having less; your bank balance does not define you. Jesus warned of the “deceitfulness of riches,” because money promises a lot of things it can’t deliver. There will never be enough money, because people expect money to do things it was never meant to do. You can’t fill emptiness with money; you can’t cure loneliness; you won’t find security in it; you can’t buy happiness or peace of mind.

Here is what the Bible does teach about money, “The love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil . . keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” 1 Timothy 6:6-11 NLT/ Hebrews 13:5 NIV.

Money is not the problem; the inordinate love of money is the problem, and the very real danger of elevating money beyond its place and priority. Money and the things it can supply can become a god that holds an importance and place it cannot be trusted to occupy. Reserve your love for God, other people, and yourself (Mark 12:30-31); don’t waste and misdirect your love on money.

Mistakenly, you might assume that the goal of work is to get enough money so you can afford to quit working. Productive work has a value beyond money. The Bible principle is clear, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work . . on the seventh day you shall do no work.” See Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Work is how you serve God and others in practical, meaningful ways, as well as the means through which God meets your needs and supplies your resource for generosity.

I have heard well meaning people assume that work was the result of the curse, after Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Not so. Meaningful labor preceded their foolish disobedience. See Genesis 2:8/15 NIV. However, the curse of their sin caused the struggle and toil associated with their work. “Cursed is the ground because of you . . through painful toil you will eat of it . . it will produce thorns and thistles for you . . by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food . .” Genesis 3:17-19 NIV.

Here is the sum of this: money is not what your life is to be about. There is a responsibility that comes with wealth – the greater the wealth, the greater the responsibilities. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48 NIV.

Enjoy thankfully all that God provides for you, but do not let money be wrongly trusted as your source of happiness and security. God alone is your Source. “Every good and perfect gift is from above . . from the Father . . my God will supply all your need . .“ James 1:17 NIV/Philippians 4:19 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you learn to be content with what you have.

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When Is More Enough?

March 22nd, 2010

“Because you have been trustworthy.” Luke 19:17 NIV

“Contentment is learning the distinction between plenty and more.”

My thoughts today ask, “when is more enough?”

The problem is not usually about what people have; the problem is the insatiable appetite to have more. There is a faulty belief that if a little bit of something is good then a lot more of that would be great, but that is not necessarily true. Success and happiness in life is recognizing when more is enough.

I have watched my wife, Gayle, take a bite of a dessert so tasty and then push it away, explaining to my amazement, “No bite ever tastes as good as the first.” I think I am more the opposite. That first bite just leads me to want more, sometimes until I wish I had not. But I have learned she is right; the last bite after too many certainly is far less delicious than the first one. Has that ever happened to you? I believe they call that overindulging. It would seem we all do that in too many things.

There are a lot of things – good things – that money can buy, but more money is not the answer to everything, if anything at all really. Some one has reasoned this way: money can buy you a bed but not sleep, books but not learning, delicacies but not an appetite, a house but not a home, medicine but not health, luxuries but not happiness, company but not friends, and influence but not integrity.

That is not to suggest that money is of little value, nor that you are not meant to have it or enjoy it. See 3 John 2 NKJV. I do suggest to you that money – and more of it – will not give you what it cannot provide. Appreciate it for what it can do, but understand its limitations. Contentment is learning the distinction between plenty and more. Money is not always worry-free, and more of the same is not the solution. “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and He adds no trouble to it.” Proverbs 10:22 NIV. Ever heard anyone refer to “ill-gotten gain?” God’s blessing is never ill-gotten gain. The Bible teaches three ways to be blessed with more, which will always be enough and for your good.

Be faithful with what you have, and God will give you more “because you have been trustworthy.” Being responsible in someone’s trust brings you greater trust and added responsibilities. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10-12 NIV.

Be generous in serving God and others with what you have, and God will give you more “because you have been trustworthy.” “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but it comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed . . blessing crowns him who is willing to sell . . he who seeks good finds goodwill . . (but) whoever trusts in his riches will fall . . the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:24-28 NIV.

Be obedient to do the will of God with what you have, and God will give you more “because you have been trustworthy.” “By faith, Moses . . esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him.” Hebrews 11:26 NKJV/NLT.

My prayer for you today is: enjoy what you have and trust God for all you need.

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Poison of Bitterness

February 22nd, 2010

“Looking diligently . . lest any root of bitterness spring up.” Hebrews 12:15 NKJV

“Be quick to bring every hurt and disappointment to God’s healing hands.”

My thoughts today are about the “poison of bitterness.”

There are things that may not seem very big at the time, but later can have bigger and further reaching effects than you expected. Some emotions are like that, and bitterness is one of the worst of those that do. It begins innocently enough, with some minor offense that leaves you feeling slighted, overlooked or mistreated. What does it hurt to recount to yourself how that should not have happened, or to seek the comfort of sharing your feelings with an understanding friend? No big deal, you say? But it often is a big deal.

A hurt feeling can readily become the seed of far more serious emotions, which eventually take root and produce fruit you never intended. Contrary to it name, bitterness at first may taste sweet. There is an initial but short-lived satisfaction, but the aftertaste is everything the name implies. The fruit of a tree identifies the nature of that tree. The root of a tree determines the abundance of its fruit. Picking the fruit won’t change the expression of a tree’s nature; killing the root will!

I have observed that the more a person entertains or expresses a negative emotion the more that grows, the stronger it develops, and the larger the circle of people it touches. Hurt feelings easily become settled attitudes. Watch out when your wrong attitude sows the seeds of bitterness. Bitterness destroys happiness, poisons hearts, and separates friends.

It may begin as targeted at a particular person or situation, but will ultimately touch all of your relationships, coloring every interaction and subsequent action. The Bible advises, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many . . trouble you and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 NIV/KJV. The insanity of a bitter attitude spreads its poison to any and all.

You can see that in a person’s clouded countenance and tense features, or uncharacteristic reactions and sharpness of words without apparent cause. The Bible says, “watching diligently,” which suggests you alone are finally responsible for your attitudes and reactions. You can’t control what others do or say, but you must guard your own heart and choose your own responses. Guard your heart diligently, choosing your responses wisely. Your own happiness and spiritual well-being is at stake. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

Beware of any root of bitterness, however subtle or harmless it may at first seem. Let me suggest a better way. “Give all your cares to God, for He cares about  you . . that Christ may be more and more at home in your heart as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love . . remain in Me, and I will remain in you; you cannot be fruitful apart from Me . . that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault . .” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT/Ephesians 3:17 NLT/John 15:4 NLT/Philippians 2:15 NKV. Be careful about your roots; the fruit will then care for itself.

My prayer for you today is: bring every hurt and trust it into God’s healing hands.

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Happier and Healthier

February 15th, 2010

“I came that they may have and enjoy life . . till it overflows.” John 10:10 Amplified Bible

“Laugh a lot more, and live a lot better, and longer!”

My thoughts today are about “happier and healthier.”

There are some folk, both in and out of the church, who seem to think that God doesn’t appreciate people enjoying themselves. Some would live as though anything fun must be spiritually suspicious, if not plain wrong. No wonder people who are not yet believers are hesitant to have much to do with any church or its families on a personal or social basis. Who wants to hang out with joy-killers?

I have found that truly happy people are usually spiritually and emotionally healthy people as well. Reading the Gospels, I find that Jesus always seemed to be a much sought after guest at dinners, weddings, and parties. People wanted Him to be there. He did not lessen their enjoyment; Jesus seemed to add to every celebration, not take way from it. I don’t see Him standing on the sideline frowning with disapproval of people’s simple joy.

I have traveled to Israel a couple of times, and observed that the Jewish people like music and dancing. I can imagine Jesus and His disciples joining the festivities, without any apology for doing so. One of the godliest men I have ever personally known was a joy to be with, with a ready smile and hearty laugh. “Happy indeed are those whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 145:1 NLT.

Supposedly religious people, who presume for themselves the task of squeezing the joy out of everyone and everything, disappoint me. My Dad laughed a lot and enjoyed friends that did. Our home was a place of fun and laughter. My Dad said that everyone makes others happy – “some make people happy when they come, and others when they leave.” I think we both know people who qualify for the latter. I want to be counted among the first more often than I have.

Give yourself permission to smile more readily, and laugh more frequently. One of the best gifts you can give to your family and friends is a bit more laughter in your life and theirs. Here’s Solomon’s practical wisdom on the matter: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful; the cheerful heart has a continual feast; a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 15:13,15 and 17:22 NIV. That sounds to me like God considers people with a sense of humor to be healthier and happier.

There have been a number of medical and psychological studies that show that humor and happiness – positive emotions and attitude – produce healthier lives. That kind of joy is found in Jesus. The Savior came that you would, “have and enjoy life, till it overflows.” John 10:10. Laughter relieves stress, and stressful situations, lightens the burdens you feel weighing you down, and puts the worst of matters into proper perspective. As a pastor, I have been with grieving families and watched them brighten at the recall of humorous family memories; the good times always outweigh the bad. Laugh a lot more, and live a lot better, and longer!

My prayer for you today is: give your self permission to be unexplainably happy.

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