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Strength from Weakness

December 6th, 2017

God’s Word in your spirit echoes His truth.

“As your days, so shall your strength be.”

Deuteronomy 33:25

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“Strength from Weakness.”

Most everyone has certain words, ideas, or convictions that shape and direct their journey, maybe from something they read or from someone’s advice or experience with which they identified. Such words become a fixed point, a North Star, from which you can navigate daily life.

Beware of the world’s noise and be suspect of the cacophony of its errant suppositions. Along your journey, when you are seeking and listening for God’s voice, He will speak a word to teach and guide you. God promised, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV. It is important that you give God opportunity, and critically important that you listen carefully and obey when He does.

Across my seasons of my life and circumstances, I have found God’s promises true and available exactly when I needed them most. Such a word from God, spoken into your spirit, instantly echoes with truth and becomes a fixed point from which you can then safely navigate the moment, confidently chart the course ahead, as well as mark the progress of your journey.

You must find a dynamic balance between those who feel a helpless paralysis, afraid to do anything or afraid of doing the wrong thing until God has spoken, or the presumptive casualness of others going full speed ahead while assuming God will just speak if and when He chooses. Either would be an uncomfortable extreme for me. I want to walk wisely according to the Word, while listening for the gentle voice of the Spirit to direct my steps and choices along the way. I want to live in such a way that I am always attentive to God, welcoming His voice and wisdom at all times, while living confidently in the moment.

Some years ago, my Mom suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was not expected to live through the night. God gave us another seven weeks with her before her death. The first week at the hospital was numbing and wearying for me, praying for her recovery but knowing that any hour might be her last. One night as I trudged home from the hospital exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I felt God quietly whisper into my heart, “As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25. God’s Word in your spirit echoes His truth.

I was too tired to ask for such a word and not at all expecting it, but God spoke when and what I most needed to hear. I recognized the familiarity of those words from the Bible, and later looked up the verse, to find the added strength of the following words accompanying His promise, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27. I cannot describe the strength, assurance, and comfort those simple words made at that moment, and in the several weeks that followed, and still to this day. When you feel most alone and without strength, you are neither alone nor without strength when God is with you.

I was glad that I had previously hidden God’s Word in my heart and recognized His promise from the Bible. Every night following, I went to bed knowing the sufficiency of God, and every morning I awakened confident of His abiding, daily supply of strength. These years later, I still walk each day in that gift from the Lord given to my heart. Like the manna God provided to Israel, they could gather only enough for each day. But His provision for each day was sufficient and exactly enough. Strength isn’t physically bankable. “To those who have no might, He increases strength . . But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary.” Read Isaiah 40:29-31.

There will be much about tomorrow that you cannot know now and may not understand then; but nothing that God does not know. When you know that His strength will be equal to each day’s responsibilities and necessities, you will live with anticipation and confidence. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Read Proverbs 3:5-10 NIV. Our Father has promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your weakness].  With Paul, you can know that, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Today, I pray for you to recognize God’s voice amid the confusion of so much other noise.

Christian Communications 2017
Website and archives: allenrandolph.com
Facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

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Distractions and Diversions

September 18th, 2013

One thing I do . . I press toward . . the prize of the upward call of God.” Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

Be vigilant; the insistent threatens the important.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions and diversions.”

Life can easily misdirect priorities, unless you persist with diligence and purpose. If you have not experienced diversion in matters small or large, you will. You can begin with clarity of purpose, then become diverted by things that clamor for your attention, only to realize that you have lost direction. Life is often what happens while you were busy elsewhere. Remembering his own painful experience, Solomon offers wise counsel, Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked . .” Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT. Time and energy can be wasted on needless diversions.

I benefit from my Dad’s practical counsel, “Keep the main things the main thing!” Paul’s “main thing” was voiced in this determination, “That I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me . . one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. For everyone, there are three essential components, “forgetting, reaching, and pressing.” Paul knew who he was, who he wanted to be, and what diligence that would require of him. The same clarity must be true of you. Contemplate what “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” would be for your life.

Be vigilant; the insistent threatens the important. Keeping a clear focus is not always as easy as you might assume. Life can be distracting. “Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32-33 NKJV. Distraction results when the secondary usurps the place of the primary. Keep Jesus in the center.

Jesus asked a probing question, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” Read Matthew 8:34-37 NKJV. No man begins with the intention of losing his soul. Distractions and diversions exact a terrible price. With broken heart, Paul wrote this of his former companion, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. For a love that does not endure and cannot satisfy, Demas traded his destiny. The destroyer of your soul is the master of distractions and diversions. Do not be ignorant of his schemes. See 2 Corinthians 2:11 NLT. What he cannot take from you, he will tempt you to lay aside.

Are any of us safe? God never meant for you to live insecurely. “The temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so you will not give in to it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT. I am confident of God’s sufficiency and care.

His promise is this, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV. The word you hear is the Spirit’s affirmation of the Word you have hidden in your heart. See Psalm 119:9-11 NIV. The path of your success is simple: keep the Word of God foremost in your heart, listen to the Spirit of God devotedly, and be true to both unreservedly. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will be steadfast in your pursuit of God.

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The Rest of the Story

December 17th, 2012

Making directional decisions without the wisdom of God can be hazardous.

“Joseph . . being a just man decided . .” Matthew 1:19 NLT.

This morning, I saw a practical application in the Christmas story that my familiarity had previously obscured. I love those times when the Holy Spirit opens one’s heart to an enriched understanding of an already familiar Scripture. Before reading my comments any further, I suggest you read the story of Joseph. Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV.

There will be times when circumstances require decisive action. But be extra careful in such moments. Making directional decisions without the wisdom of God can be hazardous. James 1:5 NIV. The information you know is probably partial, correct but incomplete. Solomon observed the folly of a person, “who answers a matter before he hears it.” Proverbs 18:13 NKJV. Yet people do that all the time, especially when the few facts they know are difficult to hear.

Joseph and Mary had planned their life together; they were engaged and waiting to be married. All was well, until an angel’s pronouncement to Mary rearranged every assumption about hers and Joseph’s future. Read Luke 1:26-36 NKJV. The angel’s visit to Mary changed everything, but at least she had all the truth, directly from Heaven. When you do not know what you do not yet know, a wise decision is chance or providence. When you know what God knows, your situation and future make sense.

Joseph was not as fortunate as Mary, at least not initially. Possibly others, but probably Mary, related this new information to Joseph. It was a strange story indeed. They were not yet married, but Mary was pregnant and some difficult and important decisions had to be made and the sooner the better. Joseph would have to make hard choices, but he did not realize that he did not yet have the facts that God alone knew. He almost missed God’s plan for his life and for Mary’s.

Joseph wanted to do the right thing, but what was the right thing to do? He loved Mary; he didn’t want to shame or hurt her. He was hurting enough for both of them. The Bible records, “Then Joseph . . being a just man, and not wanting to make [Mary] a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” Matthew 1:19 NKJV. In a dilemma, Joseph did what I have done on occasion, when not careful. Ostensibly for Mary’s well-being, he considered their situation, evaluated his options, and then made the best decision he could. Here is what Joseph did not do; he did not wait on God for the rest of the story. That’s always a mistake. Bring every matter to God for His wisdom and direction before acting. There are always other lives touched by your uninformed decisions.

God is so gracious. “And an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream . . ‘Joseph, do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit’ . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded.” Matthew 1:20/24 NLT. Joseph listened to God, rather than his own reasoning. Listen to your heart in those quiet times when you “feel” there are things you don’t know but need to know. See Isaiah 30:21 NIV. Don’t rush ahead of God; wait on the Lord for wisdom and trust His faithful direction. Proverbs 3:5-7 NKJV

My prayer for you today is that your heart includes God in every decision and direction.

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Wise Decision Making

November 5th, 2012

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15 NIV.

When your decision to serve God is irrevocable, every choice is simpler.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wise decision making.”

Life is about choices, and choices are not without consequence; wise choices are for your benefit and foolish ones to your detriment. Good choices are not accidental; they result from wise decision making. Wise decision making is not an ability anyone naturally possesses; it is a skill you acquire. Build relationships with people who make wise decisions. Cleanse your heart and mind. Submit your will and desires to God’s will. Seek Godly counsel. See Proverbs 15:22 NKJV. Know and trust God’s Word to guide you. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV. Listen to the Spirit of God in your heart. See Isaiah 30:21 NIV. You will know in your heart what is right, when you really want to choose right.

For some, that comes more easily. For all, experience is the best teacher, assuming that you learn from the occasions when you weren’t careful about choices. No one of us has a perfect record. Is there anything about your life that is not impacted by your choices? Sometimes, you have the opportunity to correct your choice; at other times you just have to learn from it, admit your decision was wrong, minimize the consequences, and try to be wiser the next time.

Joshua was a Godly leader with a demanding task. In addition, Moses was a tough act to follow with big shoes to fill. And he was not all that eager to do so. Read Joshua 1:1-9 NIV. Obviously, Joshua suffered a lack of confidence about the task of leading a not always cooperative people into God’s promise and intention for them. Repeatedly, God had to remind Joshua to be “strong and of a good courage.” The people he led were not always so Godly – much like us, probably. Often they just did not get it right the first time – or even the second, or third time.

Joshua confronted people with a clear choice, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15 NIV. No one can make that decision for you; you make it for yourself. Isn’t that the same choice that confronts you today? When your decision to serve God is irrevocable, every choice that follows is simpler. Read Acts 27:13-25 NKJV. Israel had come to a crucial junction, personally and nationally. There were decisions and choices to be made if they were to go forward in the purposes of God. They could choose to serve God, or by default they could revert to their family history or be absorbed by their surrounding culture – “the gods your forefathers served, or the gods of [those] in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15-18 NIV. That’s the right choice, “As for me . . [I] will serve the Lord!” Read Psalm 100:2-3 NKJV.

Life is not to be governed by your circumstances. Life is not about what happens to you; life is about what you make to happen for you by Godly choices and wise decision making. Ultimately, your firm convictions about God and life, and your decisions about your circumstances connect to govern your life. A choice to be made indicates you have options. View and decide them wisely, and not without prayer and/or Godly counsel. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked . . but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law he meditates [continually] day and night.” Read Psalm 1:1-6 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you choose wisely according to unchangeable truth.

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Lost Happens

August 6th, 2012

“Your ears shall hear a word . . saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV

Without God to guide you, you will inevitably get lost.

My thoughts and comments today are that “lost happens.”

On a trip celebrating our recent anniversary, Gayle and I just returned from a few days on the Northeastern seaboard in Boston, Gloucester, and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Getting from the Boston Airport to our hotel in an outlying suburb proved challenging. We had directions but the area was totally unfamiliar to us. We had a hotel reservation, an address, and a rental car – and Boston’s evening rush hour traffic. Oh yes, did I mention we had a map and GPS, thankfully? There were a few inevitable ‘turn around and go back” moments. My wrong turns made the drive more tense and took more time than would have been needed. I remember the sense of relief arriving safely at our “home away from home” for a few days.

Then we decided to have dinner in Gloucester, a charming seaside village north of Boston, most known for the Atlantic-fishing Gloucester men (and the George Clooney movie, “Perfect Storm”). Need I mention I missed turns as well as made wrong turns on our trip back after dark? There weren’t many turns, but I went north when I should have gone south or east when I should have gone west – wandering and wondering if I would find our hotel again in the unfamiliar countryside? There were more adventures, but I will leave those for another time. My wife’s careful navigation and that reassuring voice on the GPS brought us safely home, eventually.

This is not a travelogue; there is a point and application I will make. We would have been so lost without reliable directions from the welcome voice on our GPS. The GPS knew the directions we needed; we knew we needed those directions. Life is much like that. You will find yourself needing accurate directions. You can assume that you know how to do what you need to do and how to get where you need to go. And sometimes you will; but sometimes you won’t. And you can confuse those times that you are and you are not, wasting a lot of time and effort needlessly.

The prophet Isaiah was a voice to a nation that had lost their way, preparing them for confusing times that lay ahead for them. God reassuringly spoke through the prophet a promise that is still true today for you, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV. Without God to guide you, you will inevitably get lost. You won’t mean to be lost; lost just happens.

How does God direct your life? The Bible is God’s inspired and anointed Word teaching you how life is to be lived with certainty, peace, and joy. Its wisdom is unequalled; its truth abiding; its directions reliable. Read it daily; study it devotionally; follow it diligently; rely on it constantly. The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV. The very words describe a journey. Read Psalm 19:7-11 NKJV.

God has given His Holy Spirit to live within you to instruct and direct you. The Bible says, “The Spirit of truth . . dwells with you and will be in you . . When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you in all truth.” John 14:17/16:13 NKJV. When the Spirit of God is directing you, there is peace and confidence. He will always instruct you in the ways of God and direct you in the right paths.

My prayer for you today is that you know where you are going and who you are following.

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