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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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Obstacles and Opportunities, Part 3

February 5th, 2016

NOTE: This is the third and final segment of my thoughts and applications about Joshua and the miracle at the Jordan. If you have not read the previous devotionals – “Obstacles and Opportunities”

Part 1 is at: www.allenrandolph.com/?p=9027

Part 2 is at: www.allenrandolph.com/?p=9036

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“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.” Isaiah 43:2 NLT.

God works miracles beyond the
comprehension or capabilities of men.

My thoughts and comments continue today about, “obstacles and opportunities.”

I have been sharing about the miracle at the Jordan river that allowed Joshua and Israel to cross over an impassable river and utterly destroy an invincible city blocking their entrance to Canaan. Read Joshua 3:1-17 KJV. You also will confront circumstances – though much less than theirs – that will oppose your desired progress. There are two truths to remember: (1) Never limit God to your present circumstance. Read Ephesians 3:20 NIV. (2) God always has more than you can see from where you are. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 NIV.

Sometimes, the problem is inward, requiring that you exercise discipline and self-control. At other times, the problem is beyond your cause or control, when you will need the kindness and assistance of others. God weaves people into your life for His purposes. But you will confront a few situations where and when only God has the resources and power to help you. With God, such an obstacle includes unforeseen opportunity.

God works miracles beyond the comprehension or capabilities of men. Those miracles require your conviction that, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NKJV. There are sovereign acts of God and miraculous interventions by God. Miracles have both divine and human elements. Miracles occur when God requires you to provide trust, faith, and obedience; then with you, He accomplishes what you cannot.

In the miracles of Jordan and Jericho, multiple human elements were required of Joshua, the Priests, and the people. God gave Joshua clear instructions, which depended on the specific obedience of any and every one involved. Holman, a dear friend and elderly minister, often encouraged me with Isaiah’s promise, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” Isaiah 1:19 NIV. Joshua was to prepare the people and instruct the Priests. The Priests were to carry the Ark of the Covenant into the swirling waters where they were to “stand in Jordan,” until they “stood firm on dry ground.” Joshua 3:8/3:17 KJV. The people were to wait for the waters to recede and then follow the Priests across the dry river bed. An element of faith and obedience was uniquely required of each.

In every miracle, there is a crowd willing and waiting to see what God can do. But first, God has to have a leader who is clear about the will and Word of the Lord. Then God needs a few priests who will step out with courageous faith and stand in steadfast obedience. Read Joshua 4:10/18 NIV. As I studied this Bible passage for a recent weekend of ministry, I felt the Holy Spirit speak into my heart. Alone in my room, I wept as I understood that the priests stood bravely in those threatening flood waters for more than their personal safety and future. In faith, they stepped into the waters and stood firm on behalf of others who could follow them – their wives and children, friends and neighbors, and a nation whose immediate fate and ultimate destiny depended upon their willingness to do so.

I may not be a leader like Joshua, but neither am I willing to just stand safely in the crowd. As for me, I choose to be a priest standing in faith and obedience for those who will follow after me. The Bible is clear; “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV.

Someone is looking to you for your example and encouragement. A priest stands between God and man – before God on behalf of men and before men on behalf of God. Will you be a royal priest who stands steadfastly upon God’s Word for others? Step out from the crowd and assume your priestly responsibility on their behalf. “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV. 

Here is a word for someone today, “Do not be afraid . . you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT. Be encouraged in God and an encourager to others.

Today, I pray for you to stand firm in faith for the sake of others.

Christian Communications 2016
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If you have not watched the video of this teaching, “Seize the Day.” My comments today originate from that teaching. I hope you will take the time to listen . . . https://vimeo.com/153012760.

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Holy and Unholy Anger

May 7th, 2014

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Ephesians 4:26 NLT.

Anger is a doorway through which your flesh proudly walks.

My thoughts and comments today are about “holy and unholy anger.”

Anger is an emotion that should have a warning sign, “Danger, handle with caution.” Anger is best in the smallest of doses and managed with the greatest of caution. It is an emotion that is not necessarily sinful, but God places some wise restrictions on it. “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT. Unchecked, anger damages – even ruins – lives, families, and friendships.

The emotion itself is not wrong, but the origin of anger and manner of expressing it can go horribly wrong. Anger is a doorway through which the worst of your flesh proudly walks. Anger is unrighteous if inconsistent with God’s nature and ways, does not serve God’s purpose for yours or others’ lives, or surrenders control of your passions, words, and actions to something other than the Holy Spirit. Anger begets violence and can be destructive, whether verbal, emotional, or physical. See Genesis 4:6-7 NLT.

Yet God is described in the Bible as being angry. He was angry when Israel turned from God to idols. But know this about God: “His anger is but for a moment; His favor is for life.” Psalm 30:5. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” Psalm 103:8. “. . full of compassion, slow to anger.” Psalm 145:8. “. . slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” Joel 2:13. Anger, when balanced by virtues of God’s character, will remain righteous in its expression. The discipline of spiritual restraint controls the emotion of anger without sinning.

Righteous anger is in harmony with God’s emotions of strong displeasure with sin and wrong. There are many things that should make good people righteously angry. You should not be passive about wrongdoing, such as when the powerful take advantage of the weak, when the rich abuse the poor, when the wicked prey on the helpless. Those things make God righteously angry, and should arouse a holy passion for fairness and righteousness in you.

Sadly, most of the anger with which you will contend is not about God or others, but is aroused when your own will has been denied or your rights have been ignored. In that regard, this is God’s counsel: “My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.” James 1:19-20 NLT. That’s good, practical advice.

When you take time to really listen and restrain your words, anger is less likely, more readily managed, and expressed profitably. Solomon wisely said, “It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32. Nothing could be truer, or wiser, or more practical than that. Anger is an emotional symptom of losing self-control in a situation.

My prayer for you today is that you will handle your strong passions with caution.

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Being Submissive

February 7th, 2014

“God blesses those who are gentle and lowly.” Matthew 5:5 NLT.

Your natural desire is to be assertive; the spiritual choice is to be submissive.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being submissive.”

Recently, I heard a person described as “having lost their filter.” That could probably be true of any of us some of the time. Without deliberation, words can be inconsiderate. With some people it’s a matter of words not being monitored; for a few it may be strong opinions not being moderated; for others it could be emotions not being managed. A measure of disciplined self-restraint is wise.

From Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we have thus far considered the “poor in spirit – those who prize nothing of their own to boast, and to whom God gives all He has to offer,” and “those who mourn a pain they cannot bear, to whom God gives what He alone can provide.” Let’s now examine those Jesus described as, “meek.” They possess, “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4 NKJV.

(3) Being submissive. To those who embrace submission, an expansive circle welcomes them. “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” Matthew 5:5 NLT. In his letter to Titus, Paul wrote, “Remind the people to be . .  peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:1-2 NIV. That’s quite a challenge for all of us, but possible when you choose to walk in obedience. Submission brings you into the blessings of the disciplines of God. Your natural desire is to be assertive; your spiritual decision is to become submissive to God. Solomon discovered, ”It is better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32 NLT.

The character qualities of being “gentle and lowly” describe the attribute of meekness, not to be confused with weakness despite the phonetic similarity. The two are nothing alike. A meek person is mindful of others’ rights, but their own responsibility. Meekness requires moral and spiritual strength. The Greeks described meekness as a powerful horse who submitted to the bit and reins. See James 3:3 NIV. Biblically, meekness is defined as, “disciplined strength under control.” 1 Peter 2:19-23 NIV.

“The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God . .  who follow His directions, and comply with His designs, and are gentle towards all men; who can bear provocation; either remain silent or return a soft answer; and who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Jesus is the prime example; “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 NKJV. Self-control is not discovered within yourself; such ability comes from obeying the Word of God and submitting to the Holy Spirit. See Galatians 5:22-23 NIV. “Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance . .” Read 1 Timothy 4:8-10 NIV.

God blesses those who are willing to live exemplary, Christ-like lives, “. . for the whole earth will belong to them.” I am not altogether sure of all that His promise involves, but it is true and will be grand.

My prayer for you today is that you discover the joy of a meek and gentle spirit.

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Just Say No!

October 24th, 2012

“Do not let sin control the way you live.” Romans 6:12 NLT.

The Holy Spirit indwells you and empowers with Godly qualities not naturally possessed.

My thoughts and comments today are, “just say no!”

Living with restraint can be challenging in today’s culture. It seems as though self-restraint is thought more vice than virtue. The culture glorifies unrepressed self-indulgence and unlimited self-expression more than Godly self-restraint. Such lack of self-control may seem more heightened with this generation, but it is by no means exclusive to our moment in history. Solomon described a time when, “I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing.” Ecclesiastes 2:10 The Message. That is a most miserable way to live. How did that work out? Read Ecclesiastes 2.

In the first century, ancient Rome may have exceeded the worst of our twenty-first century in not valuing self-control. Yet to the very Christians whose lives had to be lived out in the epicenter of such flagrant lifestyles, Paul wrote, “You must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t run little errands that are connected with that old way of life.” Romans 6:12-13 The Message. Don’t run errands connected with your old way of life; that is strong counsel.

In Paul’s letter to Christ-followers at Philippi, he brings greetings to them from, “the saints who are of Caesar’s household.” Philippians 4:22. What a testimony! Christ-followers were serving as slaves or servants in the very household of Nero, one of the more degenerate and profligate of Caesars. Imagine those Christians’ self-control. If they could live for God in such a place and time, you can live for Jesus whatever your location or circumstance today. They could easily have found an excuse to indulge themselves as those around them did; they had every reason to try to fit in to their surrounding, immoral environment. Instead, they chose to just say “No!”

What choice are you making today? Self-control is an incorrect term for what I am talking about. How successful have you ever been at controlling yourself when you wanted to do something that you knew was not right to do? When your body craves something your heart will not allow, what do you do? Is will power enough in such situations? Paul described self-control as a fruit of the Spirit. “When the Holy Spirit controls your life, He will produce this kind of fruit in you . .  self-control.” Galatians 5:22 NLT. The Holy Spirit who indwells the believer empowers your spirit with Godly qualities not naturally possessed. When the Spirit of God is allowed control of your heart – your passions, desires, and actions – you will find true self-control possible.

One person’s testimony was firm, “I do not want my testimony for Jesus Christ to be shattered by a single moment of indulging my flesh. I don’t want one moment of rage or pride or lust to cast a shadow over a lifetime of walking with the Lord.” To that, I say a hearty, “Amen!” The fear of the Lord is birthed in the heart of any person who knows what they are capable of doing, and what their sin would do to God’s heart and His righteous Name; Godly fear is not one’s fear of what God might do if you sin. “Fear the Lord and turn your back on evil. Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.” Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT. Turn your back on evil; put the old ways forever behind you. My friend, Campbell, often said, “The heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, “the Author and Finisher of your faith;” then you will not fixate on what destroys your soul. See Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT.

My prayer for you today is: live under the Spirit’s control of your mind, heart, and conduct.

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