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Direction, Distractions, and Diversions

September 8th, 2017

Distractions create diversions to a course not envisioned.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 KJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Direction, Distractions, and Diversions.”

Life needs direction – a worthy goal to reach and a path to reach that goal. For that direction, you need God. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT. And life can be full of distractions. Even God cannot direct your path if you allow yourself to become distracted.

A firm and clear direction minimizes distractions. David’s direction was unequivocal, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV. That is a Holy direction that can last a lifetime, and reaches into eternity. Most of the time distractions are usually of little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention was one of personal urgency and importance? Distractions, even those that are small and brief, lead to diversions that can set your life on an unintended path. Distractions create diversions toward a course not envisioned.

The sincerest decision and most vital direction can be supplanted by even a minor distraction. Because there is so much that you should do, and so much that you could do, there will always be moments that misdirect you along another path, away from the task at hand. Diversions are inevitable. Be prepared for them. Something more attracting and enticing will beckon your attention. All too easily, the best of  intentions can be displaced.

Later in life, individuals find themselves in a far different place than they planned. Where did they take a wrong turn? What decision changed their destination? Or maybe it was a curiosity that became a fascination indulging experimentation, which slowly became a habit and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. Paul was wise when he wrote, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV. Permissible does not mean advisable.

There is no diversion that is more important than your decision to pursue God earnestly. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do,” then consolidated three necessities of that singular passion. “One thing I do, forgetting those things which 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.” Read Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. Similarly, the Bible offers multiple, practical characteristics for your single-minded pursuit of God.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2 NKJVHeaven is real and eternity is sure.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3 NKJV.  Hold fast to the faith that in difficult times will hold you fast.

Be earnest about prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.James 5:17 NKJV. Effective fervent prayer has the power to change anything.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way, [the way of love].” 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV.

The world, with its deceitful pleasures, is full of distractions. If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see Jesus’ life and love in you. May this worthy goal be yours and mine. “We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and Godly sincerity.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be earnest about all aspects of spiritual life.

Christian Communications 2017

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Unashamed

January 13th, 2016

“Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Hebrews 11:16 NIV.

Live so your family and friends have no cause for embarrassment.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unashamed.”

As a teen, I recall occasions when my father wisely reminded me, “Allen, remember; you are a Randolph.” His words were not of distrust, but of his trust and expectation of me. From his words, I understood that my conduct and conversation should reflect positively or would reflect negatively on others as well as myself.

Shame is a negative, but healthy, emotion you feel when you behave in a less worthy manner than you or others should expect. I am ashamed of some things I have said and done across the course of my life, and thankful to God and others who have shown me love and grace in spite of that. Along the way, I hope I have learned to do better. Though admittedly as human as the next person, my aspiration is to live so my family and friends have no cause for embarrassment.

Though not an exhaustive list, the twelfth chapter of Hebrews describes multiple people of exemplary faith in these words, “They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Read Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV. To me, that is the most incredible description of grace and the confident power of God.Grace includes you in that noble company of saints. Read Ephesians 2: 4-10 NIV.

I know that  my name is linked to His in grace. Imagine the power of that and personalize the Bible’s affirmation; read it aloud right now; “God is not ashamed to be called my God.” It is neither pretentious nor presumptuous to affirm that as true. Let its transforming truth sink deeply into your heart and spirit.

Dare you and I believe, that in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can live in a manner that God is not ashamed to be called our God. How dare we not believe what God has said to be true? Paul had every expectation of that truth, “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV. “Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Read Hebrews 2:10-12 NIV.

It reassures and comforts me that God chose to identify Himself to Moses affirming, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Exodus 3:15 NKJV. The record of each was less than sterling. But God was not ashamed to be called their God. At the end of my life, it will be satisfaction enough to hear my Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I want to live in the strength of my Dad’s belief in me and my Heavenly Father’s grace toward me. Read 2 Timothy 1:12-14 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live as honors Jesus, with neither shame nor regret.

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Unmet Expectations

August 21st, 2013

“My soul, wait only on God, for my expectation is of Him.” Psalm 62:5 NKJV

Expectations are not debts you are owed or can collect.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unmet expectations.”

Unmet expectations happen all the time. When that occurs, do you feel disappointed? Your answer will likely be related to one question. Were those unmet expectations of yourself, or someone else? Reasonable expectations of yourself are a good thing, providing a target for personal improvement, a measurement for how you are doing, and a goal for further achievement. To a great extent you choose those expectations and you control their fulfillment most of the time.

When I fail to live up to my own expectations, I find reasons to understand. For my poor performance, I am willing to “grade on a curve.” But be careful; it is easy to excuse your failings yet be less understanding and accepting of others’ failure to meet your exacting expectations of them, whether stated or silently undeclared. What do you feel? Hurt? Frustrated? Angry? Or at least, disappointed?

Let me suggest a few practical strategies. As for yourself, set reasonable expectations that provide adequate motivation for you, yet will avoid a discouraging sense of failure if not reached fully. A good goal should not result in bad guilt.

As this regards others such as family and friends, limit your expectations to what can be commonly expected of anyone – courtesy, communication, respect – and what has been clearly communicated and mutually understood. Hold your expectations lightly; your expectations are not “legal requirements” that you should or can enforce, nor debts you are owed and can collect. Examine your expectations frequently and adjust accordingly, as befits the relationship as well as serves yours and another’s individual well-being.

Communicate expectations kindly but clearly; don’t expect others to read your mind. Offer understanding and forgiveness freely. “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8 NIV. Be gracious to others, as you trust they will be understanding of you. We all have disappointed others, sometimes carelessly, sometimes ignorantly. Remember the Golden Rule: “Do for others as you would like them to do for you.” Luke 6:31 NLT. When disappointed, trust your unrealized expectations to God’s care and grace. Don’t pout or hold grudges.

The Psalmist, David, understood where one’s expectations will never be disappointed, “My soul, wait patiently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5 NKJV. Let your ultimate expectation be this, “For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame . . that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or die.” Philippians 1:20 NLT. I think that verse also voices God’s expectation and hope for you.

My prayer for you this day is that your expectations rest firmly upon God.

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Importance of Being Earnest

September 17th, 2012

Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3.

Distractions become diversions that send your life in unintended directions.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the importance of being earnest.”

The most sincere direction and vital decision can be short circuited by distractions. Because there is so much that you could do and much that you should do, there will always be alternatives that beckon you along another path, away from the task at hand.

Most of the time such distractions usually have little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention were one of personal urgency or particular importance? Distractions, though brief, can become diversions that may more permanently set your life in an unintended direction; one you did not envision. Such diversions could be regrettable at the least, or inconvenient, or maybe even costly to you in missed opportunity or unfulfilled responsibility.

Later in life, many people find themselves in a far different place than they planned, and are perplexed why. What decision changed their expected destination? Sometimes it’s a casual acquaintance becoming an unlikely friendship, evolving into a questionable relationship, and eventually resulting in an ill-advised and ill-fated marriage. Or maybe it was a curiosity that became fascination, soon an indulging experimentation, then becoming a habit, and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful . . I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12. That is a wise rule for living prudently.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. In life, there is no intention more important than a clear decision to pursue God earnestly everyday. The Bible gives practical advice for such an earnest pursuit. “Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3. Hold fast to the faith that will hold your soul fast in difficult days.

Earnest is not a word commonly used or always well understood. Being earnest is to live with an evident priority and pursuit of a lifestyle of discipleship and service. The Christian life is not a casual stroll on a sunny afternoon. To live earnestly, you must live with purpose and clarity.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see His greatness in you.

Be earnest about prayer. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly . .” James 5:16-18 NIV.  Effectual, fervent prayer makes a difference in the lives of yourself and others. Pray earnestly and expectantly.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts . . and yet I show you a more excellent way (the way of love).” 1 Corinthians 12:31. Spiritual giftedness is for useful service; serve well for the glory of God and the blessing of others.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2. Heaven is certainly real, and eternity is sure. Avoid the mundane life; keep a heavenly perspective.

My prayer today is that you are diligent about all aspects of spiritual life.

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