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Archive for December, 2013

Crowned with Goodness

December 30th, 2013

“You crown the year with Your goodness.” Psalm 65:11 NKJV.

In every situation and season of life, you should expect the goodness of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “crowned with goodness.”

I love Christmas, yet I loved it even more when our grandchildren were young. I loved their gifts, inexpensive and wrapped as only a child does, but given with excitement and generosity. In my memory and heart, I can still hear their eager voices, “Poppa, Poppa, open my present.” Children best exemplify Jesus’ teaching, “Remember the words of our Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35b NKJV. Hardly able to wait for your unwrapping, a child brings a gift you receive with joy, not because of the nature of the gift, but because of their delight in giving it. I think this New Year should be received from God like that.

I am expectant of the goodness awaiting me and our family – and you and your family – in the New Year because God is enthusiastic about all He intends to provide. God’s character and intent is confirmed by the Psalmist, “The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV. Whatever seemed withheld previously was only out of His kindness, superior wisdom, and sovereign purpose for your greater good. What a great promise in which to give thanks to conclude this year and with which to begin a new one.

The annual change of calendar calls for appropriate reflection and preparation of heart. Too easily, the facts of His blessings and provision of the preceding year may be taken for granted and your faith for the approaching year diminished. James, the brother of Jesus, affirmed, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, Who . . never changes. In His goodness He chose to make us His own children by giving us His true Word. And we out of all creation became His choice possession.” James 1:17-18 NLT. Tracing every good thing in your life this last year leads to one source alone, God’s goodness.

In the context of an agricultural nation, David sang of Jehovah, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:11 NKJV. David declared God’s favor in all the nation’s seasons: planting, growing, and harvesting. His song describes, “The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing.” Read Vs. 9-13. Whatever season you are now in, God is sovereign and faithful, and you can see His goodness there.

In this industrial and technological society, your expectation should be the same as it was for David and Israel. The same timeless and eternal God will crown your year with His goodness. In every situation and season of life, you can and should expect and proclaim the goodness of God over your health, marriage, family, finances, occupation, relationships, and Godly pursuits. See Psalm 27:13 NKJV.

David responds with jubilant praise, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul. And forget not all His benefits . . Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies your mouth with good things.” Psalm 103:1-5 Psalm 103:1-5NKJV. Four times in Psalm 107, David’s heart overflows, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.” Psalm 107:8 NKJV. And I say, “Amen!”

My prayer for you today is that you expect and receive a new season of God’s goodness.

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Exhilarating Moments

December 27th, 2013

“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Matthew 2:10 NLT.

Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “exhilarating moments”

Sitting in a quiet house this morning after Christmas, I am struck by the contrast between this moment and yesterday when this room was filled with our family – kids, spouses, in-laws, grandkids, a great granddaughter, and a great grandson “on the way.” There was cooking, activity, laughter, conversations, busyness, fun and games, and exchanging gifts – with loving appreciation and good will to one and all. It was exhilarating. The gifts under the tree are now opened and gone; the families have departed. Now, the calm and quiet seem deafening.

In the Christmas narrative, Matthew reports the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East. “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Read Matthew 2:1-12. Anticipation, consecration, and finally celebration marked their journey. Who were they? From where did they come? How did they know to follow the mysterious, miraculous star? How long did they journey? What prompted the gifts they gave? But I think of a more important question. How did such miraculous direction from afar and such an exhilarating moment of discovery impact the rest of their lives? Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.

“They fell down and worshipped Him. Then they . . gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way.” Matthew 2:11-12 NLT. Inevitably, they returned to the routines and responsibilities of everyday life. Allow me a bit of a writer’s “poetic license” about the words, “They went home another way.” I know that refers to the Magi not retracing their steps to Jerusalem because of God’s warning them about Herod’s evil intent for the child. But for me, the words suggest a practical application: Christmas, the truth of God coming into your world, should be a permanently life-changing experience, not just an exhilarating moment.

If you understand the historical and personal reality of God loving you enough to give His Son and His Son giving Himself to be your Savior, you will not live as you did before such transformative knowledge entered your heart. Because of Christ’s birth, our calendar changed from BC to AD, “Before Christ” to “Anno Domini,” a Latin phrase that means, “Year of our Lord.” His birth changes everything and anyone forever! Christmas is a good time for lasting change. See Romans 6:4 NIV.

Jesus’ birth replaced man’s sinful plight with a spiritual destiny – any man’s history with every man’s possibilities – and man’s abysmal record with a Godly legacy, changing prejudices, temperament, habits, history, regrets, lusts, and vices. “For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Phillips. Now that is an exhilarating life.

Christmas Day is past, but Christmas’ exhilarating celebration should not be over. Do you return to the usual, or does Christmas invite a new normal? Life is like that, exhilarating moments followed by the routines and responsibilities of daily life. If you can return contentedly to being who you were, doing what you were doing, and living as you pleased, then what you celebrated may have been a “Happy Holiday,” but was not the “Merry Christmas” God intends for you. Christmas is not a single day; Christmas is Christ born anew and living in your heart every day. See John 17:3 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that your celebration of Jesus is transformative.

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Joy and Blessing

December 25th, 2013

Christmas Morning , December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas . .

On this Christmas morning, we pray for you and your family to have a joy-filled Christmas and a New Year filled with the Savior’s abiding presence and abounding providence.

Paul described the Incarnation and God’s purpose in his letter, “When the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts . . and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:4-7 NKJV.

After 400 silent years between the close of the Old Testament and the opening words of the New Testament, Heaven’s angels brought a message of “Good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” In God’s eternal plan and purpose, there is always a “fullness of the time.” For someone reading these words, faith is born in your heart to believe this Christmas and New Year is a “fullness of time” for you and your family.

Thank you for being part of the EDL Family, some of you from its beginning in 2007 and many others in more than 80 countries who have joined along the way. Gayle and I thank God for every one of you. God’s blessings on you and yours as we enter another year of sharing the powerful, practical wisdom of God’s Word for everyday life.

Allen and Gayle Randolph, EveryDay Life, Christian Communications, Inc.

 

 

Devotionals

The Christmas Mystery and Miracle

December 23rd, 2013

“Great is the mystery . . God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV.

No word from God is incredible, if no work of God is impossible.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the Christmas mystery and miracle.”

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, mysterious and miraculous in every aspect. The living, eternal God came into our world – at the most unexpected time, after four hundred silent years; to the most unlikely place, a stable in Bethlehem; in the most unlikely form, a baby. You don’t have to explain the mystery; God invites you to simply embrace the miracle. Paul described this incredible but true Christmas miracle this way, “Without controversy great is the mystery . . God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV.

The heart and reason for Christmas is best expressed in the most familiar of Scriptures, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16-17 NIV. Bethlehem’s cradle foreshadowed Calvary’s cross. Isaiah prophesied, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV. Christmas is when the Father gave us His Son; the Cross is where Jesus gave us Himself as our Savior. See 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV.

John described this history-changing moment with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men . . He was in the world, and though the world was made by Him, the world did not recognize Him . . The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Read John 1:1-17 NIV. The “Word” that John describes so eloquently is none other than Jesus, God’s Son. The mystery is that Jesus “became flesh;” the miracle is that He “made His dwelling among us.” Accept the mystery; believe the miracle. Jesus is, “Emmanuel . . God with us!” Matthew 1:23 NIV.

Let me remind you of the already familiar story of how this came about. Read Luke 1:26-38 NLT. An angel appeared with a startling announcement to Mary, a young, devout, not yet married, Jewish girl. Understandably, she is described as, “confused and disturbed,” by the angel’s words. Those would be normative emotions. She had questions because the miracle was wrapped in a mystery.

The angel’s cryptic answer was simple, “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” Luke 1:36-37 AMP. Read again the verse above; the Amplified Bible accurately translates the Greek words used by ancient translators. Simply stated, the Angel assured Mary – and you and me – no word from God should be thought incredible to you, when no work of God is impossible to Him. Incredible, but true! See Isaiah 55:11 NIV.

Jesus is the embodiment of the Word of God and the Word of God is the faithful expression of Jesus.“Search the Scriptures . . which testify of Me.” John 5:39 NKJV. The power of God flows from the word of God, then and now. While Jesus lived among us, He spoke to nature and the wind and waves obeyed; He spoke to disease and sickness departed; He spoke to sin and forgiveness flowed; He spoke to spiritual oppression and demons fled; He spoke to death and life returned. No word from God shall be without power nor impossible of fulfillment – spoken to Mary or to you!

My prayer for you today is that you never fail to see the miracle because of a mystery.

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Condemnation and Conviction

December 19th, 2013

Whenever our hearts condemn us . . God is greater than our hearts.1 John 3:20 NIV.

Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “condemnation and conviction.”

There are times when you will behave badly. A sadness of heart results, maybe even degrees of shame. You try to ignore it, but an internal uneasiness makes that difficult. The real issue is not that you failed to measure up to others’ criteria; the sadness or shame you feel is rooted in a diminished expectation of yourself.

That recognition is a good sign of a healthy, God-given sensitivity, “[demonstrating] that God’s law is written within their hearts, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.” Romans 2:14-15 NLT/NKJV. What is more important than to know right from wrong? God does not leave such to personal interpretation. Read James 4:17 NIV.

The Holy Spirit, who is within you, is grieved when you violate your innate knowledge of right and wrong. Yet that is an experience common to all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NKJV. The Spirit is God’s gift, and arbiter of the Word of God as well as the Law of God, written on your heart and expressed in your conscience. See also Acts 24:16 NKJV.

Paul admonished the Christ-followers at Ephesus, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NKJV. Those who continually disregard the pleadings of the Holy Spirit risk what the Bible describes as, “having their conscience seared [as] with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV. To a stubborn heart wrong appears right and right seems wrong. Believe me; that is not a place you want to find yourself. John 3:19-20 NKJV.

Ignoring the discomfort within yourself or refusing the pleadings of the gentle Holy Spirit who comes to “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness” (See John 16:8 NKJV),you will feel guilt and its resultant shame. Be advised of the distinction you must understand between condemnation and conviction.

The Bible is clear, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-2 NKJV. God convicts; the devil condemns. They can feel similar, almost indistinguishable, though they are not alike at all. The difference is in their intent and result, not in the regret or emotions you feel.

(10) Examine the intent. Without equivocation, I assure you God did not send His Son to condemn you; He came to save you! The Bible declares, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 NKJV. Whereas, the devil is described as, “the accuser.” Revelation 12:10 NKJV. He wishes only your harm. See John 10:10 NIV.

(2) Consider the results. “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the One who died for us and was raised to life for us . .nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . .” Romans 8:33-39 NLT. Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation. “This then is how we . . set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 NIV. Conviction creates repentance; condemnation only produces impotent regret . . but “God is greater than our hearts . .”

My prayer for you today is that you heart remains at rest before God.

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