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Life and Legacy

January 25th, 2019

Satisfaction is in God alone.
“Guard your heart above all else.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT.
My thoughts and comments today are about, “Life and Legacy.”

 

 

Life can get upside down and sometimes backwards. One of those ways that can happen when you believe the world’s model of greatness. It is assumed that the one who appears to exceed others’ abilities and achievements must be smarter, stronger, tougher, and more widely regarded. Inaccurately we reason, maybe somehow, they have more importance than others. In the world’s system that might be so.

But in the Kingdom of God, greatness is described as joyfully and generously serving others. Jesus taught that a satisfying life is about serving God and others, not placing yourself above and before others. Jesus warned, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Read Mark 9:33-37 NIV. Paul was clear, “For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18.

Worldly-wise people can do spiritually foolish things. Solomon was the wisest of men, but his excess eventually overcame the wisdom with which he had begun, and to which he would return. He was given exceeding wealth, privilege, and prominence that provided everything he could desire. Yet his unbridled restraint provided unwise opportunity to explore anything his heart desired.

But Solomon finally recognized it all as vanity that created nothing more than futility and emptiness. More stuff just can’t satisfy. Never has. Never will. Because things alone are unsatisfying, they seem to leave an emptiness that the human heart tries to fill with lesser things.

That emptiness happens too easily, almost without notice at first. Without Godly wisdom, a person can become confused by things that seem important but are inconsequential. Solomon discovered, “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction . . during the few days of life God has given them.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 NIV. Satisfaction is found in God alone.

God’s Word is clear about what demands attention and what deserves your attention. People are always God’s priority – before things, even the best of things. Above all else that clamors for your attention and affections, God and family always merit your first and best.

Life is not about the external matters of, “what you do.” Goodness is internal, “why you do what you do.” Goodness is all about who you are. It begins in your heart. Jesus said, “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Read Luke 6:43-45 NLT.

Solomon advised, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. And being who you can be has everything to do with your willingness and invitation to place Christ first and foremost in your heart. When Jesus has His rightful place, life is right side up and in spiritual order. Could that be why they describe good people as, “upright and upstanding?”

Your life can be your greatest legacy, and an abiding Godly example for your family and friends to follow. There is no inheritance you will leave behind that would exceed the heritage of your Godly instruction and personal example. Today, I pray for you to keep eternal values preeminent in your life.

Christian Communications 2019
Website and archives: allenrandolph.com
facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

 

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About God and Governments

July 1st, 2016

Above pride of nation, be a servant and soldier of the Lord Jesus.

“Are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?“ 2 Chronicles 20:6 NAS.

My thoughts and comments today are “about God and governments.”

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday and heritage, it seems an appropriate time to consider present world realities. You cannot listen to the news even a little without wondering and worrying about the things happening around the globe.

And what is happening? Global politics, accusations and threats from world leaders, heads of governments strutting across the world stage with boast and bravado, bitter political and religious differences, growing terrorism and brutal violence, ideological alliances and fearful attempts to balance military powers, international rivalries and jealousies, lust for power with the threat of nuclear and biological weapons, apparent impotence of most treaties, truces, and international sanctions, as well as angry, military hostilities in too many diverse locations – all combine to create concern for today and uncertainty for the days ahead. Can governments provide the remedy?

Conflicting voices and partisan opinions tell you the solution to all of this is your vote for their candidate or political party, each one promising you greater security and prosperity for yourself and family. Isn’t that what every citizen wants, whatever their nationality, language, religion, economy, or governmental system? But has that ever worked yet?

Where is God in all of this? Here’s what the Bible says. “He made from one man every nation . . having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.” Acts 17:26. Ultimately political summits do not shape the geography of countries. Nor do political leaders alone determine the future of nations. God does. Your informed vote in the political process is important; your faith in God and fervent prayer is yet more consequential and powerful – more far reaching to influence the fate of nations. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV. See 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV.

God caused Israel’s oppressors to fund their exodus from captivity with Moses. Exodus 3:21. Generations later, God opened the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to return Israel’s captives to Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1.  In more recent history, was it the world’s nations that carved out territory and national boundaries for Israel in 1948, again returning the Jewish people to their homeland? Or was that the hand of God, and His promise to Israel from centuries before? Job confidently declared, “God makes nations great, and He destroys them; He enlarges nations, and disperses them.” Job 12:23-25 NIV.

Here is the sum of this matter of security and prosperity in this day and world. “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8. God promised every generation, “For unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder . . of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . the passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9:6-7. Is it God, or governments? I will go with God. See Philippians 3:20.

My prayer for you today is that above pride of nation, be loyal as a servant and soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian Communications 2016

Facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

Today’s comments were originally written in 2009. As I considered this upcoming weekend for our nation’s celebration of Independence, the words remain a relevant reminder today for freedom loving people in every nation. God’s Truth is timeless and applies broadly. Blessings to all of our EDL readers across more than 120 nations.

The Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC

EDL National Cathedral

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The Grace of Serving

June 9th, 2014

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”  Mark 10.45 NKJV.

You are truly a servant when not offended to be treated as one.

Today, my thoughts and comments are about, “the grace of serving.”

Who comes to your mind as having a servant heart? My Mom was like that. I observed her joyfully exercise this practical, spiritual gift of serving throughout her lifetime. For some serving is a God-given gift in their nature. For most of us, serving must become a purposeful development of Godly character and intentional practice. Jesus is your perfect example.

And you and I are called to be like Jesus. Now that is a most staggering goal but there is help. “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.” 1 John 3.2 NIV. But that is then, and this is now. I would describe this as a process, a progressive work of the Holy Spirit that is life-long. None of us is a finished product in this life time. It doesn’t happen naturally, nor very quickly either.  

There are days when being even a little more like Jesus seems a pretty big task. His goal is clear: “Until we all . . become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NIV. People often have fairly strange ideas of what that might look like. I find that most spiritual things are a lot more practical and simple than you might make them. When people make spiritual development mystical and complex, they can easily excuse themselves from responsibility to even begin the journey.

Here’s where you begin. Commit yourself to find opportunities to serve others, like Jesus did. “Just as the Son did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 NIV. Jesus didn’t have to serve; He chose to serve. Philippians 2:5-9 NKJV. Serving is a family trait. You choose to serve. You become more like Jesus when you know that serving pleases Jesus most. Pleasing Him is this simple, ”. . through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 NKJV. Serving requires grace, and all grace begins with God.

The disciples were shocked when Jesus knelt to wash their feet. See John 13:12-15. Such a thing was culturally unthinkable, cross-grain to their pride of self and station. They had a lot to learn, and it would be a hard lesson for them. They were looking to be heads of state in His new government. Mark 10:35-41 NIV. Servants of God care more for others than themselves.  

Jesus turned the world system upside down so in His Kingdom it would be right side up. Those insisting on being served are the lesser important in His Kingdom. Jesus said those with a humble and caring heart who choose to wrap a servant’s towel around their waist and joyfully give themselves to serve are the great ones. See Luke 22:24-27 NIV. There comes a nobility with a serving heart. Those who serve are not demeaned; in God’s eyes, they are elevated.

My dear friend and spiritual father, Campbell, wisely said, “Allen, if you want to know how well you are doing as a servant, notice your reaction when someone treats you like one.” That is a good and practical measure of your progress, or lack thereof. A strong dose of servanthood is beneficial, producing serving as a lifestyle, rather than an occasional occurrence. When you enjoy serving, you develop a servant-heart and become more like Jesus.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will feel the joy of opportunities to serve God and others.

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Listening

September 24th, 2013

“Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9 NIV.

The noise of surroundings and busyness of schedules impair listening.

My thoughts and comments today are about “listening.”

You live in an increasingly noisy, busy world filled with a myriad of voices that will not be ignored. You can’t help but hear them. They make themselves heard, no matter how much you wish to avoid them.  Eventually, the noise of surroundings and busyness of schedules impair your carefulness to listen closely and hear accurately. That is unfortunate, especially to your spiritual life.

Hearing and listening are similar, not identical. Hearing is a natural, physical capacity, whereas listening is a skill acquired and practiced intentionally. Learning to recognize and respond to God’s voice is vital to spiritual life and growth. Jesus said, “The words that I speak are spirit and life . . man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” John 6:63/Matthew 4:4. Peter seemed to understand this when he answered Jesus, “To whom shall we go, for You alone have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68.

Give importance to hearing from God. God’s voice is seldom heard when you are too busy to listen or preoccupied with lesser things.

Be purposeful about listening to God. God may speak to you through Scripture, or words of a friend, or a circumstance of life, or through a song or sermon, but always as a gentle voice in your heart.

Take time to listen for God. You give time and attention to what you consider personally beneficial. Nothing else that engages your time is as beneficial as listening for God. Read Psalm 1:2-3 NIV.

Quiet your heart to listen to God. Living in a noisy, busy world is spiritually challenging. Every other voice and human activity can diminish the clarity of His voice in your heart. Lower the volume of turmoil around you; slow the hectic pace of unrelenting busyness. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Read Psalm 46:1-3/9-11 NKJV. With a quiet heart before God, listen closely; you will hear God’s voice whatever the surrounding circumstance or chaos.

Listen with intention to obey. In the New Testament, Paul related the words, “obedience and disobedience,” to the words, “to hear under/hupokoe,“ or “to hear alongside/parakoe.” See Romans 8:19 NKJV. Submitting what you think or feel under what God says empowers obedience. Equating what you think or feel alongside what God says enables disobedience. How you hear has everything to do with your response to God. Listen to God carefully, as though everything depends on that; it does!

The young child, Samuel, illustrates the posture and practice of listening to God. “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening . . and the Lord said to Samuel . . as Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful.” Read 1 Samuel 3:1-11 NIV/19 NLT. When God’s words matter to you, God values and inspires your words on His behalf. Samuel identified himself to God as, “Your servant,” implying his attention with intention to obey. Obedience is the prerequisite for hearing God accurately. God does not volunteer to disclose His will, if obedience is not your intention.

My prayer for you today is that you have a heart to listen and ability to hear.

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Qualified To Serve

August 9th, 2013

For he who serves Christ . . is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18 NKJV

Humility prepares you to serve; pride prevents you.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “qualified to serve.”

Serving is an art, not a task – elevating, not demeaning. Serving benefits others, while making you better. Serving well has rewards, some are external to others, and many are internal to yourself – such as, personal satisfaction, practical usefulness, and character development. However, the purest motive for serving is simply because it honors God, reflects His nature, and serves His purpose. Serving is just the right thing to do, an expression of love for another and evidence of a redeemed nature.

Admittedly, serving does not seem to come natural to any of us and therefore, we have mixed feelings and misconceptions about serving. Our fallen, and self-centered, nature prefers being served rather than being the one serving. Read Luke 22:24-27 NKJV. By His own teaching and example, Jesus set the standard high; “I am among you as the One who serves.” Luke 22:27 NKJV. In the Kingdom of God, serving is not relegated to the under-qualified; rather, serving is reserved for those who are well qualified.

Even ungodly Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, knew there were qualifications for the best servants. Upon conquering Jerusalem, his instructions were to bring to Babylon the best and brightest: “Bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – young men . . showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s place.” Daniel 1:3-4 NIV. Consider the king’s high standards for those who would serve: recognized potential, practical knowledge, native intelligence, and proven abilities. Would God expect any less of those who serve Him? “Servants . . whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men . . for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:22-24 KJV.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Christ-followers in Rome, most or all of which were servants literally, even slaves, in Roman households, “For the Kingdom of God is . . righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things [righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit] is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:18 NKJV. Serving Christ. Acceptable to God. Approved by men. Those are quite the accolades, and could be said of you? And the result? “My Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” John 12:26 TEV.

Practically, how do you “serve” Christ? Jesus is clear, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these . . you did it for Me . . whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:40/45 NIV. I have often quoted the wise counsel of my friend, Campbell, “If you want to know how you are doing as a servant, watch how you react when someone treats you like one.” Humility prepares you to serve; pride prevents you.

My prayer for you today is that you treasure humility and practice serving.

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