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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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Words Matter

February 17th, 2017

Words contain life and carry the seeds of creation

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight.” Psalm 19:14 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are that “words matter.”

My fourth-grade teacher taught me an appreciation and respect for words. My Dad taught me the responsibility of words. Words were important to my Dad. I recall his reminding me, “Allen, never speak words you don’t mean.That seems plain and simple enough. He practiced and believed that your words represent you and your good name, and insisted they be honest and honorable always and to all. If not already, you will learn that not all people mean what they say, say what they mean, or do what they say. That is unfortunate, but never let that be said of you.

Words are the essential currency of social interactions. Words are the necessary tool for ordinary communication, meaningful exchange of ideas, and the intended covenant of business and agreement. I have visited and ministered in countries where their native language is different from mine. Thankfully, I was accompanied by others who made me understood and helped me understand.

Words contain life and carry the seeds of creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3 NIV. The Creator spoke, and it was so. “We understand that the universe was created by God’s word.” Hebrews 11:3 TEV. Words have the power to heal or hurt, inspire or intimidate, inform or deceive, build or tear down. Solomon warned, “You must live with the consequences of everything you say. What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.” Proverbs 18:20-21 TEV.

 Your words are important to God. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 NIV. In unguarded moments and situations, your words will eventually reflect your true attitudes and thoughts. Know your heart. Guard your words. Paul urged that your words should not be, “foolish talk or coarse jokes.” Read Ephesians 5:3-4 NLT. Jesus’ words are sobering, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Read Matthew 12:35-37 NIV.

Your words must be important to you. “Let your speech be always with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so you will know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:6. In those words, I see the picture of a mom carefully preparing supper for her family, tasting and seasoning as she cooks. Taste your words before you lend them a voice. Just in case you must eat them later. “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious . . A man of knowledge uses words with restraint.” Ecclesiastes 10:12/Proverbs 17:27 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to choose your words to be gentle and loving without need for regret.

Christian Communications 2017

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Loved and Loving

February 14th, 2017

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “loved and loving.”

“If this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.”      1 John 4:10 TEV

Every person has many needs. None is stronger or more essential than your need to be and feel loved. The greatest gift of one’s self is to offer love to another flawed person, not because of anything they have or have not done, but simply because you chose to love them. Love sets an elevated value on another person higher than they may have thought themselves deserving. And that’s a great feeling for both the one loving and the one loved.

Why do people struggle to believe they can be loved? On some occasion, every person has felt rejection or being unwanted. Hurting people hurt people. That is unfortunate but probably unavoidable in an unkind and hurting world. Such feelings diminish your understanding of self-worth and may wrongly persuade you that you are unlovely, or even unlovable. Those emotions are difficult to change, even when told otherwise. I heard it said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” That is nowhere more true than in this matter of love. Love is most persuasive when evidenced by grace given and behavior observed, rather than by mere words that proclaim love. Love is volitional, before it becomes emotional. In every action and overture toward you, God is unchangeably consistent with His choice to love you forever.

When teaching on love years earlier, the Lord gave an insight expressed in this understanding, To be authentic, love must be practical and observable. God’s love for you is practical, observable, and always sacrificial. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16 TEV. The love of God is practical enough to provide, protect, and preserve, and is plainly observable in the wonderful plans He has made for you, forever.  God said, “I know the plans I have for you . . to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally, without measure or requirement. Being loved embraces the obligation to love others in no lesser way. “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 TEV. You are loved; be loving. See Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV. In life, I have found that loving is well worth the risk, and the rewards are the incredible, extravagant dimensions of Christ’s own love. “Take in . . the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” Ephesians 3:18 MSG. See Romans 8:35-39 NAS. Your love is limited until you embrace His love without limits.

Today, I pray for you to receive the immeasurable love of God and share it generously.

Christian Communications 2017

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Rights and Restraints

February 8th, 2012

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV

“Liberty is your right in Jesus Christ; loving and serving one another is your responsibility.”

My thoughts today are about “rights and restraints.”

Freedom unrestrained by concern for others’ best is not freedom at all; freedom without restraint is freedom abused. I remember my fourth grade teacher describing for our class the difference between freedom to do whatever you want and the restraint of doing only what is beneficial to others as well as yourself. She spoke of personal rights and interpersonal responsibilities. She said that every person has the right to swing their arm as they please, but one person’s freedom to do so “stops at the end of another person’s nose.” I think the fourth graders understood the concept that day. One’s personal freedom should never be imposed at another’s expense. Why do many adults not understand what was obvious to those fourth graders – the simple concept of rights and restraints?

Some impulses are best restrained. You have a right to your opinion; you should restrain yourself from imposing your opinion on others when unwanted. You have a right to enjoy yourself, but not when doing so imposes on someone else’s enjoyment. You have the right to do what is best for you, when that is coupled with a regard for what is good for others as well. On a recent, full flight, I was seated on the aisle with an empty middle seat. When a man asked if the middle seat was taken, I offered to move over and allow him the aisle seat. My feelings of generosity lasted only until he commandeered the arm rest for the duration of the flight while I sat uncomfortably with arms folded, admittedly displeased at his lack of sharing such limited space. He assumed a right without similar restraint.

Let’s be real; self-interest is your first instinct, but it should not also be your last as well as everything in between. When liberty is only self-serving, it is something less than love and gives occasion for the flesh to exalt itself to the harm of others as well as your own detriment. Liberty is the fruit of love, the means by which you serve others. The Apostle Paul loved and taught spiritual liberty but he also qualified true liberty. “You have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an occasion for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:13-16 NKJV.

Are we capable of setting aside our prevailing self-interest – the idea of “myself above and before all others?” Probably not on your own nor in your own strength. Here’s the good news: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We all . . are being transformed into the same image [of the Lord] from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV. The Spirit’s work of liberty is the freeing of one’s selfish, sinful self to be who you were created to be and were redeemed to become. See John 8:31-32/36 NIV.

In the context of his instruction, Paul distinguishes between the ugly “works of the flesh – expressing sexual immorality, impure thoughts, lustful pleasure, idolatry, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions,” in stark contrast to the lovely “fruit of the Spirit – producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Read Galatians 5:17-26. NLT. Liberty is your right in Jesus Christ; loving and serving one another is our mutual responsibility. You serve best when you pick up your responsibilities and lay down your rights, as Jesus did. See Philippians 2:3-11 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you practice restraint in everything except love.

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Extravagant Love

November 9th, 2011

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” 1 John 3:1 NIV

“God lavishes any willing heart with extravagant love.”

My thoughts today are about “extravagant love.”

Love is a multi-splendored thing. It is hard to imagine a life without love. Yet, I am well aware that there are folk who do not feel loved, some who have never felt loved and assume that they have never been loved. Such a deficit – real or imagined – affects every aspect of the development of healthy personality. There is a medical description in pediatric and geriatric care called “failure to thrive” when an individual, generally a very young child or elderly adult, is provided all the usual necessities to sustain physical life, but without the regular interest and interaction of others.

I think anyone will fail to thrive spiritually when not experiencing a significant measure of fellowship and companionship with others. We were never created for isolation and separation; we are made for some measure of community. “God sets the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6 NKJV. There are aspects of personal development that are stunted without the input and influence of others. Love transforms every life. You were designed to love and be loved by others, but most especially by God. You thrive when you are.

John learned this most profound truth: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 NIV. Do you like that description, “lavished on us?” When God loves, He does not love with constraint; He loves with all He is – “God is love!” 1 John 4:7-12 NIV. God lavishes any willing heart with extravagant love! Do you have to be perfect? You don’t earn love; you simply accept it. God loves you without condition – always has, always will. However, unconditional love is not to be confused with unconditional approval.

Jesus said the most amazing thing about God’s love. “To let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as you have loved Me . . that the love you have for Me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:23-26 NIV. I cannot even imagine why God would or how God could love me just as He loves Jesus; can you? Who but your Heavenly Father is capable of that?

Why would He? Simply because He chose to do so! “Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved (you) and chose (you) in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt (you) into His own family by bringing (you) to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave Him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT. I call that extravagant, don’t you?

God’s love is not anything about who you are or what good you have or have not done; God’s love is about who He is and what He has chosen to do for you. “God demonstrates His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” See Romans 5:6-11 NKJV. God’s love is way beyond adequate; His love is abundant!

My prayer for you today is that you allow God to love you as only He can.

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