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Priceless

March 21st, 2018

Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless.

 “Everything is worthless when compared with knowing Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:8 NLT

My thoughts today are about things that are, “priceless.”

Priceless things do not always come with a price tag. Yesterday, I received a few digital copies of old family photographs. The originals from which they were copied were tattered by time, but immeasurably valuable to me. They were glimpses of our family history and heritage, my paternal grandparents, including my sister and I with our New York cousins. And a photo of my uncle Ralph, a proud marine who never returned from WW2. Another was of my parents as a young couple, apparently taken before I was born.  And one of my sister on her first birthday. Those pictures would be noteworthy to no one other than our family and myself. But to me, they are priceless.

Everyone has some things that hold special meaning tucked away safely or secretly somewhere. Such objects are rarely viewed as costly or valuable to anyone else. But to that one to whom they belong they are prized possessions. Usually, our valuable things are tucked securely in safe deposit boxes or may be paraded proudly and publicly before friends and neighbors as signs of our success, such as houses, cars, jewelry, college degrees, awards of recognition, expensive recreational toys, and things like that. None of those are bad on their own; none of them good enough on their own.

The Apostle Paul listed many proud achievements about which he could brag and boast. “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Read Philippians  3:7-8 NLT.

Paul successfully checked off all the required boxes of religious, social, and political success. Those prized accomplishments identified who he was, how well he had done, and how important he was. But when he added it all up, he saw the inadequacy and emptiness of all that. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:18 NIV.

“Breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” Saul asked for and received letters of authority from the High Priest to imprison those troublesome followers of the recently crucified Jesus. Read Acts 9:1-5 NIV. While enroute to Damascus, Saul dramatically encountered the Risen Christ and viewed everything that he once counted as his life’s net worth, as worthless. Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless. After his traumatic encounter with Christ, Paul’s singular, surpassing purpose became his passion to know Jesus personally and intimately.

Paul wrote, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-10 NLT/NKJV. While in college, “That I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection,” became my life-verse; it still remains so today.

What prized possessions do you hold in a tight grip, or those that hold you in an even tighter grip? There are things that money cannot buy. Can anything at all actually compare with the true wealth of knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord? “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, Who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18 NIV. Christ alone is priceless.

Today I pray for you to allow nothing and no one to become as important to you as Jesus.

 

Christian Communications 2018-4610

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Inward Direction

January 4th, 2011

“You will . . be led forth with peace.” Isaiah 55:12 NIV

“God’s peace, don’t go forward without it.”

My thoughts today are about “inward direction.”

The reality is that God wants to guide and direct your life, and you very much need Him to do so. Isaiah wrote, “You will go out in joy and be led forth with peace.” Isaiah 55:12 NIV. Being without God’s direction means that you are making decisions with limited information at the very best. Even the information that you have about the past and the immediate moment is less thorough than what there is to know, and I don’t need to remind you of our common inability to foresee what is yet future.

God knows no such limitations, “declaring the end from the beginning” Isaiah 46:10 NKJV. Now, if you are expecting an audible voice like my smart phone’s Global Positioning System, telling you the exact distance to your next turn, when and which way to turn, and showing an overall, detailed summary of the journey from where you are to where you are going, as well as “checking the traffic for you” – that is just not likely. As the Almighty, that is well within His capacity to do so, but nothing that I have yet experienced. God speaks to you inwardly, His Spirit communicating with your spirit.

Have you ever been about to decide or do something, and just “felt uneasy” about that, in a way that you could probably not explain to someone? I have, and I am learning to listen to those moments when “something just doesn’t seem right.” When there is no peace in your heart, it is either not the right thing, or not the best time. Learn to listen with your heart as well as consider with your head. Your God-given intelligence and good judgment in contemplation and choices is important; purposefully including God in your deliberations of choosing and living wisely is essential!

God’s promise is this: “The Lord is compassionate, and when you cry to Him for help, He will answer you . . when you go through hard times, He Himself will be there to teach you and you will not have to search for him any more. If you wander off the road to the right or to the left, you will hear His voice behind you saying, ‘Here is the road. Follow it!’” Isaiah 30:19-21 TEV. God’s peace, don’t go forward without it!

My dearest of friends, Campbell, a good and wise Scotsman, often spoke of a wonderful old English word, “dispeace.” Dispeace accurately but simply describes “an absence of peace.” You know that nagging sense of unexplainable uneasiness. Likely, that was God’s caution, protecting you from an error of judgment due to any lack of knowledge or applicable experience. He doesn’t tell you that you can’t; He warns that you shouldn’t. God does not shout; He speaks to your heart. You are wise when you listen.

If you walk with a conscious invitation and developed sensitivity to God’s direction in your life, there will be times when what you hear from others doesn’t “ring true,” or a decision you “feel pressed to make” begins to seem less clear, or a course of action you thought you would pursue just “doesn’t seem the best option.”

“You will experience God’s peace . . His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 4:6-7 NLT. The peace of God comes to those who have made peace with God. Peace of mind and heart is priceless; don’t sacrifice peace because of some pressure of urgency.

My prayer for you today is that you respect God’s voice in the quiet of your heart.

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A Good Name

October 29th, 2010

“A good name is more desirable than great riches.” Proverbs 22:1 NIV

“A good name is easier to get, than to get back.”

My thoughts today are about “a good name.”

Have you ever thought much about your name? Your name was not of your choosing; hopefully, it is to your pleasing. It relates you to your family’s generations, and identifies and differentiates you from others. My name is a combination of our family name – with all the history and heritage that represents – and the others chosen by my parents for me. I have felt pride (in the most humble way, of course!) in our family name.

The origin of my first name, Allen, is not all that noteworthy. My mother told me that I was named after her nurse’s boyfriend of all things, when my parents could not decide on a name. My middle name, Ray, is in honor of my Dad, which pleases me. And of course, Randolph, our family name, connects me with the generations of Randolphs who precede me.

When I was a teen, as I went out the door my Dad’s last words usually were, “Remember, you are a Randolph.” Somehow I knew what he meant. I carried his name – a pastor’s good name, known well and respected by those who knew him – and should respect and treat it accordingly. My Dad wanted me to know that a good name is easier to get, than to get back.

A good reputation well earned is priceless yet easily damaged irreparably; a bad reputation is hard to live down and so slow to repair. Your reputation can be the product of what you do, as well as what your friends do. So live wisely, and choose to relate to friends who pull you forward and upward, not push you downward. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV. Don’t compromise your good name, even for a friend.

How do you put a price on a good name? Solomon said, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you . . then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man . .  A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold.” Proverbs 3:4/22:1 NIV. Let us remember the family name we carry, and walk worthy of the One by whom we are known and by whose name we are called. Read Colossians 1:9-14 NIV. Like my Dad reminded me, the Bible reminds us, “Let everyone who names himself by the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it.” 2 Timothy 2:19 Amplified.

My prayer for you today is: value what is irreplaceable, bringing honor to His name.

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Room for Dreams

April 9th, 2010

“Joseph dreamed still another dream.” Genesis 37:9 NKJV

Leave room in your heart for God to place His dreams there.

My thoughts today encourage that you leave “room for dreams.”

Ask a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and they have an answer. They are looking into the future, seeing what they want to be, and believing what they can be. When our youngest grandson, McKinnley, was a preschooler he wanted to be Superman. I think a lot of us have tried to be that, and had to give it up. Now he wants to be Kobe Bryant or Manu Ginobili. For a child, the future is wide open and anything seems possible. Their life has plenty of room for dreams, without such adult concerns of practicality.

What would life be without a dream? A lot less than is possible with one, I would suggest. Imagine what you might be able to do or become, if you made room in your future for dreams. Remember this; dreams can be pretty fragile so be very careful with yours, and how you handle others’. You’ve seen people who have lost their dreams. Maybe you are that person. If you lose your dream, you lose a little part of yourself, becoming something less than you could have been. Life then can seem hollow, shallow even, and more confined and mundane.

Joseph was a grandson of Abraham. Maybe when growing up, he heard Jacob, his father, telling stories of how God gave Joseph’s grandfather a dream, showing him a future family more numerous than the stars (See Genesis 12:1-4 NIV/Romans 4:18-22 NIV), and a place of inheritance given him by God (See Genesis 13:14-17 NIV/Hebrews 11:8-12 NIV). Joseph seemed to come by dreams naturally. “Now Joseph had a dream . . then he dreamed still another dream.” Genesis 37:7/9.

Joseph’s brothers’ jealousy of him and his dreams grew until they reasoned, “Here comes the dreamer . . let us kill him . . then we’ll see what will become of his dreams.” Genesis 37:19 NIV. Isn’t that what life is about – seeing what will become of your dreams? There will be people who stopped dreaming who will want to take away your dream too. Your dream is costly, but it is also priceless!

Circumstances, opposition, weariness, distraction, misplaced priorities, difficulty, impatience – any or all conspire to kill dreams and leave lives without inspiration, direction, hope, and assurance. Make sure your dreams come from God’s heart. “Now Glory be to God! . . He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT. He best knows you, and your future. Leave room in your heart for God to place His dreams there.

Here’s some things I have learned about dreams from Joseph: dreams last when they are God’s dream for you; dreams from God involve helping others; dreams will not excite everybody; dreams take time and determination to become reality; dreams come true when you stay true; dreams happen for people who keep dreaming; dreams can become a nightmare if God isn’t at their center.

I leave you with God’s good counsel to the prophet, Habakkuk, “These things I plan won’t happen right way. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 3:3 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that your dreams come true when they come from God.

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Prized Possessions

April 6th, 2010

“Everything else is worthless when compared with . . knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV

“Many things are prized; only Christ is priceless.”

My thoughts today are about “prized possessions.”

Everyone has some things tucked away somewhere that hold special meaning to them. Those things do not always have to be costly or valuable to anyone but themselves, but they have become prized possessions. I don’t know a lot about little girls, but I have observed a lot about my grandsons, that I know was also true of myself as a lad.

I think every little boy has a box of some shape or description tucked away in a secret place, hidden from others’ curiosity or siblings’ spying eyes. If and when you are privileged to be shown those special things, as individual and unique as each little boy, they may not look like much to you – trinkets, cool smooth rocks, arrowheads, pocket knives, etc. – but to that child they are prized possessions.

Adults have them too. I saw a clever bumper sticker, the 20th century’s literature of sound bite philosophy replaced by Twitter’s 140 characters in our 21st century, “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” Usually, ours are tucked securely in safe deposit boxes or may on the other hand be paraded proudly before friends and neighbors as signs of our success – houses, cars, jewelry, college degrees, awards of recognition, expensive recreational toys, and things like that – none of those bad on their own; none of them good enough on their own.

The Apostle Paul listed many prized possessions about which he could brag and boast. Read Philippians 3:4-14 NIV. Paul successfully checked off all the required boxes of religious, social, and political success – prized possessions that identified who he was, how well he had done, and how important he was. But when he added it all up, he saw the inadequacy and emptiness of all that. See 2 Corinthians 10:18 NIV.

After his dramatic – even traumatic – encounter with Christ enroute to Damascus to imprison these troublesome followers of the recently crucified Jesus (Read Acts 9), Paul saw anything and everything as worthless that he once counted as his life’s net worth, when his surpassing objective became knowing Jesus. Many things are prized; only Christ is priceless.

“I once thought these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with Him . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-10 NLT/NKJV. That 10th verse became my life-verse while in college; it is still today!

What prized possessions do you hold fast and on which you depend? Can anything – anything at all – really compare with the true wealth of knowing Christ personally? 1 John 5:20-21 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that nothing is allowed to be more important than Jesus.

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