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Coincidence or Providence?

March 7th, 2018

With God, life is not coincidental.

“Let grain from the bundles fall purposely for Ruth.” 

Ruth 2:16 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “coincidence or providence?”

Life rarely happens as you assume or expect. You may suppose that life will always reward you equitably for your efforts. And that is true to some degree, some of the time. But there are other times that the benefit you receive is not equal to the effort you expended. Occasionally, someone else gets the promotion that you thought would be yours, a reward which your efforts may have deserved. Bewildered, you are left to accept that it’s just not your turn or time for your dream to come true. That’s when you must affirm, “My times are in His hands.” Psalm 31:15 NKJV. Your life in Christ is providential not coincidental.

Read the four brief chapters of Ruth’s story of God’s provision and grace. Everything must have seemed wrong to Ruth when her husband died too young and far too soon. At the death of their husbands, Ruth and another daughter-in law lived with Naomi, their mother-in-law, in Moab. Naomi apparently had little left after the years of famine in Bethlehem, and then the untimely deaths of her husband and two sons while in Moab. What could Naomi do except return to Bethlehem, and Ruth chose to go with her.

Upon their return, what would they do? How would they live? As providence would have it, they returned in the season of harvest, but they had no fields to reap. They prepared themselves to live at the mercy of others’ kindness, but they soon found their needs unexpectedly supplied by God’s providence. As a kindness, widows and foreigners could glean what was leftover in the fields, but only after the reapers had gathered. What she brought home would be the meager result of her efforts. It wouldn’t be much, but it would be better than nothing.

But unknown to Ruth, God had other plans. Soon, she would bring home what God would provide for her through the generosity of Boaz. As the owner of the fields, Boaz ordered his workers to leave, “handfuls of purpose,” for Ruth and Naomi. Little did she know at the time what God had in store for her and Naomi, just as you cannot foresee the grace and blessing that God purposes for you, to give you something extra, even more than you could have earned on your own. Often through the favor of others, God will bless you in the most natural but extraordinary ways.

As God did for Ruth, He will place people in your path to help you have what God wants to give you. That is not random; that is God’s grace and providence. The Bible says, “Ruth found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.” Ruth 2:3 NIV. She found herself in the field of Boaz – an opportunity neither coincidental nor merely fortuitous, but dictated by the sovereign providence of God. With God, life is never coincidental. Neither Ruth nor Boaz yet knew the significance of this, but God was directing her steps, and his. Her kindness to Naomi was reciprocated in Boaz’ kindness to her. Read Ruth 2:8-12 NIV. Ruth could never have foreseen the role that Boaz would play in her life. The Bible says the “steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Psalm 37:23 NKJV.

When you choose to trust and rest in the sovereign plans of an Almighty God, you will receive blessings, “given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, [blessings] will be poured into your lap.” Luke 6:38 NIV. Plan for the unforeseen. Boaz instructed the men harvesting his fields, “Let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her.” Ruth 2:16 NKJV. One translation describes the process as, “handfuls of purpose for her.” Ruth no longer gathered mere leftovers from the corners of the field; she gathered what was purposely, providentially, and generously left for her benefit and Naomi’s provision.

Yet there was even more that would bless generations after her; Ruth and Boaz married and would become parents in the lineage of kings, such as including two of the greatest kings of Judah, King David and King Solomon, and ultimately the lineage of the Savior. Whatever your present situation, rest in the sovereign love of a gracious, generous, faithful, and Almighty God and His unimagined grace will be poured out from Heaven with, “handfuls of purpose.”

Today I pray for you to discover that God’s handfuls are ample and abounding.

Christian Communications 2018-11o8

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Providence

April 19th, 2016

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” Philippians 4:19.

In the sovereign plans of Almighty God ample provision awaits.

Lauren and Cody, my comments for you today are about, “providence.”

Life does not always happen as you planned. You assume life will give you what you earn, and to a great degree that is true most of the time. But there will be other times when what you receive is disproportionate to the effort you gave. It’s not always your turn or the time for your expectations to be realized. In such a time, be steadfast, “I trust in You, O Lord. I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIV. Life will take some twists and turns that you will not have expected. But none are apart from God’s attention.

In the Old Testament, the story of Ruth recounts a remarkable instance of divine providence, “the foreseeing care and guidance of God.” It is my opinion that we often view as random occurrence what becomes truly providential. Because of a famine in Bethlehem, a Jewish couple, Elimelech and Naomi, with their two sons, moved to Moab. Read Ruth 1:1-3. Their misfortune is summarized in those few verses. Naomi’s husband died. Across ten years, her two sons married Moabite women. And then, her sons died.

Still, providentially, God was at work. “In the country of Moab, Naomi had heard that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread.” Ruth 1:6 NKJV. Behind the scenes, God’s presence and providence are at work in your moments of disappointment, even despair. The best of life is not behind you because you experience reversals. God can reverse your reversals. Naomi and Ruth, “. . came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22 NKJV. Harvest. God’s timing is impeccable – “the beginning of harvest.” Coincidence? I thing not. Divinely fortuitous? Definitely. God’s providence offers new beginnings for you.

After the years of famine in Bethlehem and the untimely family deaths while in Moab, Ruth and Naomi had nothing left.  They had come in the time of harvest, but they had no fields to reap. What would they do? How would they live? Are you asking questions like that? They accepted that they would be at the mercy of others’ kindness, but they did not yet realize their future was safely within God’s divine providence. After the reapers had harvested grain from the fields of Boaz, Ruth and others were allowed to glean what was left over, bringing home the meager result of their efforts. No longer leftovers, Ruth received what was providentially blessed by God and provided through Boaz’ generosity.

Ruth could not have foreseen the provision Boaz would release into her life. Boaz and Ruth soon married and a child was born, Obed, father of Jesse, father of David who would be, “a man after God’s heart,” and greatest king of Israel. Nor can you know all of the grace and blessing that God purposes for you – to give you something extra, providence beyond your efforts alone. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV. God can bless you in the most natural, everyday ways. God places people in your life through which He supplies your need. In the sovereign plans of Almighty God ample provision awaits.

My grandfather was a pastor. As a young boy, I was intrigued by a series of books in his study titled, “Handfuls of Purpose.” When I inquired, he opened his well-worn Bible and read me the story of Ruth, where this phrase is found. Boaz instructed the men harvesting grain from his fields, “Let fall some of the handfuls of purpose for her.” Ruth 2:16 KJV. What you might consider fortunate coincidence or the random kindness of others may just be the “handfuls of purpose” God intends for your life and happiness.

God’s provision is always, “handfuls of purpose.” He has the same for you; “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV. That is God’s wondrous providence. Our God is “Jehovah Jireh – the Lord who sees and provides.”

Today, I pray for you to know what comes from God’s hands will be enough, with extra.

Christian Communications 2016/EDL website and archives allenrandolph.com

EDL Ruth and grain

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Connections

March 13th, 2015

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

When shared with a friend, sorrows are divided but joys are multiplied.

My thoughts and comments today are about “connections.”

ED pix connecting

Life can be lonelier than it’s meant to be. Loneliness results from a lack of meaningful and mutual connections with others. You can feel lonely in the company of a crowd but loved in the companionship of a friend. Godly companionship is nurturing to the soul in good times and nurses the wounds in difficulties. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17.

The Bible tells the story of Naomi. Read Ruth 1:1-22 NIV. In a famine, Elimelech and Naomi, with their two sons left Bethlehem for Moab seeking a better life. Elimelech died and their sons married Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah. Within 10 years, both sons died, leaving their Moabite wives as widows. Tragedy left Naomi and her daughters-in-law with a shared sorrow. As often happens, in their common dilemma they discovered a shared life. In Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep and the lost coin, each story concludes with these words, “When he has found it, He calls together his friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me.’” Luke 15:6-7. When shared with a friend, sorrows are divided but joys are multiplied.

Longing to return home to Bethlehem after her tragic loss in Moab, Naomi urged Ruth and Orpah to remain in Moab. But Ruth voiced her sense of Godly connection with Naomi. What began as incidental became personal and mutual. In their shared experience, God connected their hearts in a way they could not have anticipated. Ruth’s response to Naomi was definitive, “Where you go, I will go; where you stay, I will stay; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die, I will die.” Ruth 1:16-17 NIV. Their destiny became linked in Godly ways of mutual affirmation and blessing. Godly connections are engendered by recognition that God’s purposes envelop a common future. I love the providential occasion of their return to Bethlehem, “They came at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22. Naomi left for Moab in a famine but in the loving benevolence of God they returned from Moab at the time of harvest. Maybe your harvest is just ahead also.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24. Ruth affirmed her conviction and personal commitment, in the most practical way. In Ruth’s words are relevant truths about mutual connections. (1) Connection requires proximity and priority of time. “Where you go, I will go; where you stay I will stay.” Self-absorption and busyness minimize meaningful connection. Make time to be together purposefully and take the importance of that seriously. (2) Connection includes room for others. “Your people will be my people.” Exclusiveness and possessiveness diminishes the life God means to flow freely. (3) Connections occur when God is at the center. “Your God will be my God.” Connections require a bond with spiritual orientation and purpose. (4) Connections require significant commitment. “Where you die, I will die.” Friendships can grow and deepen over a lifetime; stay committed to them. Value and protect meaningful connections where God is directing and blessing.

I am privileged to enjoy such friendships, and hope that I can be such a friend. Though there must be some things enjoyed in common, they are usually not the more superficial things you might think, such as age, social status, or personality. I cherish friendships with people both older and younger, of diverse personalities from mine, of both modest means and wealth, and of varied experiences and interests. But there is one very important thing that we share in common that strengthens the life connection we enjoy – our common faith and commitment to Jesus. Lasting connections will have a spiritual commonality with people on a journey whose destination is as yours.

I love the providential timing of Naomi’s return to Bethlehem, “They came at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22. Naomi left for Moab in a famine but in the benevolence of God they returned from Moab at the time of harvest. Maybe your harvest is just ahead also.

Today, my prayer for you is that you provide others the company you enjoy.

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Home and Harvest

November 21st, 2012

A Blessed and Joyful Thanksgiving Season to our friends and readers of EveryDay Life! As you gather with family and friends, may you thankfully remember the faithfulness of God and enjoy ample provision from His hand. Gayle and I are thankful for you and your fellowship with us in this written ministry expression of Christian Communications, Inc. We are appreciative and encouraged by your kind responses and privileged to share the  practical wisdom and wonder of God’s Word with you and the friends with whom you choose to share EveryDay Life.

For our friends in the San Antonio area

I have been invited to speak this Sunday, November 25,  at 9:00 am and 10:30 am at Trinity Church, 5415 N Loop 1604 E (at the Judson exit on NE Loop 1604). It would be our privilege to share the morning’s ministry with you.

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Home and Harvest

Home and harvest are a good place and a great time.

“Eye has not seen . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV

Circumstances distracted and misdirected Naomi. Read Ruth 1-4. The book of Ruth is just four brief chapters, but a most amazing story of God’s providence. Naomi, her husband and two sons, experienced a famine in Bethlehem, so they moved to Moab to put the tough times behind. It is usually wrong to assume another place will be better when things are not good where you are. Things weren’t better; they became worse. In tough times, look for lessons not exits.

You can grow more in adversity than in prosperity, but you must keep your problems in perspective and your confidence in God. When I was a young teen, I recall my Father observing, “More people can stand adversity than can handle prosperity.” I have witnessed that truth in many lives.

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 might promote a faulty assumption that you need God less, when you may need Him even more. Adverse times can suggest that you can care for yourself better than God has.

Naomi and her family left Bethlehem thinking Moab was their solution, but their problems grew worse there. In Moab, Naomi’s sons married, but later died, as had her husband. When you lose what you love, a famine is a small thing in comparison. She was left in a foreign land with only her Moabite daughters-in-law, but determined to return home to Bethlehem. See the gracious, providential hand of God in her return, “[Naomi] heard in Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread . . now they came to Bethlehem [the House of Bread] at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:6/22 NKJV. What great news to hear and good time to return home. In God’s timing, home and harvest are a good place and a great time.

Naomi inaccurately described her plight, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV. Her excursion to Moab left her empty; the Lord brought her home in time for harvest, beyond anything she dared imagine. Her pain and loss made her fail to see, “’The Lord has brought me back’ . . at the beginning of the barley harvest!” Your Father will bring you home to blessing, if you let Him. Read Ruth 4:13-17 NKJV. Naomi’s grandson would become the grandfather of David, and the lineage of the Messiah promised to Israel! See Matthew 1.

Like Naomi, you may not yet know what God has prepared for you but this is true, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT. God’s timely harvest will wipe away your loss from the famine. She left in a famine; God brought her home at a time of harvest.

The Bible says you can, “[learn] to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13/19 NKJV. Contentment is a lesson life teaches learners. Happiness doesn’t come from having all you want; happiness is found in thankfulness for what you have. In tough times, you learn that faith, family, and relationships matter more at all times.

At this Thanksgiving season, be joyful and thankful for a bountiful harvest, whether at hand or still ahead. Now is a good time to enjoy home and harvest when you, “enter His gates with Thanksgiving.” Read Psalm 100:1-5 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you find God’s place of fullness and stay there in His will.

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Coincidence or Providence?

October 14th, 2011

“Let me . . glean . . after him in whose sight I may find favor.” Ruth 2:2 NKJV

“Occurrences of divine providence benevolently intersect your path every day.”

My thoughts today ask, “coincidence or providence?”

Everyone has unexpected and unexplainable occurrences so obviously out of the ordinary course of events that they are noticeable as peculiar. Such a moment might make you say, “Hmm! How did that happen?” Your response is the recognition of a coincidence, “a concurrence of events with no apparent connection.” It’s stunning when one of such moments arise. Most people explain that as luck. The question for me is this: are there really such things as mere coincidences? Is life just chance occurrences?

Good things that happen without apparent source can only be explained as random coincidence or divine providence? I choose to believe the latter! I have heard many people describe my life-long friend, Kenny, as being “born under a lucky star.” For some it was the only way to explain the good fortune and unique success his life has enjoyed. That would discount his indiscouragable optimism, joyful personality, bold faith, and passion for God. He isn’t lucky; Kenny is blessed with God’s favor! Luck, if there is such a thing, is random; blessing, and there is such a thing, is purposeful.

I find this to be true: the more a person loves and serves God with joyful obedience, the more “random coincidences” seem to occur in their life. “He who earnestly seeks good finds favor.” Proverbs 11:27 NKJV. In my life and ministry, more than once I “just happened” to be where an invaluable opportunity presented itself; I “just happened” to have met the person who could best help me do what God was asking; I “just happened” to know someone who knew someone that I needed to know. Such occurrences of divine providence, small and large, benevolently intersect your path every day. Look closely, you will see God’s fingerprints.

The book of Ruth is a wonderful, historical account of God’s hand upon a young woman, Ruth, who had experienced a series of difficult circumstances – widowed while young and childless, moving from her childhood home in Moab to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, and poverty. In a rural, agricultural society to be without land meant to be without a means for daily provision. She and Naomi were dependent upon the benevolence of others. “Let me go to the field and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” Read Ruth 1:22-2:11 NKJV. Ruth didn’t ignore realities; she wisely chose to rely on God’s favor. Ruth trusted God to direct her steps, finding unexpected provision and unanticipated posterity into the lineage of David and therefore into the bloodline of the Savior – all by God’s favor. Enjoy the rest of her story. Read Ruth 4:9-22 NKJV.

Favor opens doors you could not access. Favor provides opportunity you did not earn. Favor grants success beyond your skills. Others’ kindness to you is God’s benevolent favor toward you. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor (chosen) rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 NKJV. Let Jesus be your model; “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 NIV. The good that comes your way is providence, not coincidence.

My prayer for you today is that you experience greater reward and satisfaction than effort alone provides.

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