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Archive for December, 2015

What’s in a Name?

December 30th, 2015

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NKJV.

Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “what’s in a name?”

A secure sense of identity is important. Names have significance. My first name distinguishes me from others in my family. My middle name honors my Dad. My last name identifies me with generations that preceded me and will follow me. Your name identifies you, connects you to your history, and differentiates you from others. I have friends who have legally changed their names to honor their cultural heritage or to better reflect their new life in Christ. In Scripture, God considers names important. When God chose to send His Son into our world, His name was not left to whim or chance, but deliberately chosen by God.

To Nazareth, an angel was sent to the young virgin, Mary, as well as Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus . . for He shall save His people from their sins.” Read Luke 1:26-35/Matthew 1:20-21 NKJV. Jesus’ name, “Jehovah Saves,” perfectly describes His purpose on earth. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” Acts 10:43 NIV. All who call upon the name of Jesus find forgiveness and release from the power of their sins. Jesus came with singular purpose: to do the will of His Father, to reveal the heart of God, to declare the power of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to bring redemption from sin. “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Read Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV.

Gratitude and pleasant memories accompany names of family and friends dear to me. Yet there is no name more loved and gratefully recalled than the name of Jesus. What’s in a name? Everything, when it is His name. Be clear about this; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. See Acts 2:21 NKJV. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT.

I know of no greater declaration and assurance than the unchanging nature of Jesus and His power to save. Romans 5:1-2. There is a wonderful promise of redemption and renewal in Christ, “To him who overcomes I will give him a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NKJV. Awaiting you is a name that only God knows, that will perfectly describe who you have become because of His abundant grace. Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal. “That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to hold the name of Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.

Christian Communications

Brass Stamp

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Christmas Generosity

December 22nd, 2015

 

“Manage [your God-given gifts] well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” I Peter 4:10 NLT.

Generosity of heart engenders generosity of hand.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Christmas generosity.”

When the Wise Men followed the miraculous star to the Christ child of whom the prophets had written, “They fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 NKJV. In grateful humility, they presented themselves as preface to their gifts. Generosity overflows from grateful hearts. Generosity of heart engenders generosity of hand.

Let’s be practical; who doesn’t enjoy receiving good gifts? As I write, my wife, Gayle, is wrapping Christmas presents. As our family has grown with kids, grandkids, spouses and in-laws, and now great grandkids – and when you add to those the number of friends with which we have exchanged gifts across the years – there are a lot of presents to give. The Christmas celebration includes the practical expression of generosity. Generosity is the DNA of Christmas. “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 NIV. Giving is God’s nature.

Receive gratefully, then give generously. There is joy in shopping, choosing, and giving thoughtfully selected gifts. Paul recalled Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV. When you understand the principle, it is plain and simple; giving produces the greater blessing. God doesn’t promise to multiply what you are given; generously, He blesses what you give. Read Luke 6:38 NLT. Solomon wisely encouraged, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NLT.

You are gifted. God made you with unique gifts to offer others generously. “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT. Celebrate Christmas generously, neither measured nor managed. Be generous practically, giving patience, kindness, mercy, grace, love, and such like. Be generous personally, living without constraint. Be generous spiritually, sharing God’s love faithfully. Be generous financially, giving thoughtfully. Be generous emotionally, forgiving unconditionally. Forgiveness is given not loaned. Jesus was clear, “Give as freely as you have received.” Matthew 10:8 NLT. Be that person.

Today, I pray for you to practice generosity until that becomes your natural expression.

Christian Communications 2015

Generosity

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Joy is a Choice

December 18th, 2015

“Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” James 1:2 NLT.

Joy is a choice before it becomes an emotion.

My thoughts and comments today are that “joy is a choice.”

Especially at the Christmas season, make joy your choice. We have a wishful but mistaken assumption that only good things happen to nice people and bad things only happen to people less deserving. Jesus reminds us that “Your Father in heaven gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and on the unjust too.” Matthew 5:45 NLT. Sometimes it seems the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Read Psalm 73:1-17 NKJV.

Just as some measure of God’s mercy and blessing comes upon all without respect to their deservedness, struggles and sorrow are also indiscriminate. The story of Job provides evidence of that. That reality may be disconcerting, especially when you are experiencing unwarranted pain and feeling that your manner of life should have shielded you from such.

Troubling times and situations are inevitable. The Bible is very honest about that. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV. Things may happen because of where you are rather than who you are or what you have done.

James added this practical advice, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let [your faith and endurance] grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character, ready for anything.” James 1:2-4 NLT. Joy is a choice before it becomes an emotion. When trouble surrounds you, your heart has an opportunity to choose joy.

When I visited England and the magnificent, historical castles there, I learned about the “castle keep,” the most defensible and impenetrable place in the castle. It is the place of last resort to which the king and his loyal defenders could withdraw, regroup, and withstand the enemy’s worst attack, the secret place where the king could be safe when the threat was imminent, a place to await reinforcements and from which to mount a counter attack.

You have such a safe place in Christ. “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10 NIV. Get there quickly and abide there confidently. When not spared from the battle, you can remain safe in the struggle. Years earlier, when I faced a troubling church situation, an older, wiser pastor encouraged me, “You’re going to make it! You may not look like much, but you will make it!” His simple wisdom immediately lifted my spirit. I wasn’t worried about a few bumps and bruises nor a battle scar or two; I just needed to know that God was with me and my future was secure in His hands. God had spoken His truth into my heart; I took that opportunity to choose joy.Read Colossians 1:9-14 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to embrace joy, especially when your heart feels overwhelmed.

Christian Communications 09267

JOY

Devotionals

Practices, Habits, and Addictions

December 16th, 2015

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 NIV.  

Addiction is the product of attraction, appetite, and repetition.

My comments today are about “practices, habits, and addictions.”

People are subject to addictive behavior. No one plans to surrender control of their life; it just happens before one realizes. Each taste makes you want another and bigger taste, each time requiring a bit more than before to be as satisfied. At first, you choose. Eventually, the option is no longer yours; the choice is imposed from within. Once allowed, addictions are not easy to break. Addiction is a troubling thing.

Some people become adrenalin junkies, tempting a greater danger while seeking a bigger thrill. Alcohol, drugs, sexual pleasure, or greed enslave the unwise. Incorrectly, you might not think of some other things as addictions: anxiety, worry, fear, distrust, doubt, anger, profanity, gossip, and appetites of all kinds. “Whatever you choose to obey becomes your master.” Read Romans 6:16-18 NLT. Anything that you know you shouldn’t do and do anyway, can result in a physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual addiction. Read Romans 7:14-25 NIV.

Sin is like that. It calls you incessantly, lures you enticingly, and then ensnares you mercilessly. It has proven true that “sin will take you further than you meant to go, cost you more than you can afford to pay, and hold you longer than you knew.” If you will be wise, it’s not difficult to avoid sin. You will not do so by being clever or worldly wise. You will need the wisdom of God which is readily available to you. “Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV.

Some years ago, my dear friend Campbell shared this practical, Godly wisdom with me, “The heart cannot desire what your eye has not seen.” Addiction is the product of attraction, appetite, and repetition. If you never begin a direction you don’t want to go, you will not end at a destination you never expected. If you never indulge a wrong you should not practice, you will never struggle with its bondage. If you never sample the taste, you will not acquire an appetite you were never meant to satisfy.

David prayed, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:12-14 NIV. Practices become habits; habits become addictions. Sin has a terrible and inevitable progression – “errors, hidden faults, willful sins, and ultimately great transgression!” Let the Holy Spirit be the arbiter of what’s right and best for you. Even what first appears the smallest of sins is dangerous, devious, and deceiving; avoid such at all costs. Read Titus 3:3-8 NIV. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 NIV.

In stark contrast, the Bible commends an addiction that is recommended and profitable. “The house of Stephanas . . have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 16:15 KJV. Let your habitual behavior be to serve and edify others.

Today, I pray for you to keep your heart far from sin’s desires and practice.

Christian Communications

EDL breaking chains

Devotionals

Integrity and Skillfulness

December 9th, 2015

Allen Randolph

For any of you living in the St Louis, MO/Granite City, IL area, I will be speaking next Sunday, December 13, 10:45 am, at City Temple, 4751 Maryville Rd, Granite City, IL. I would love to meet you after the service.

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“Bless all his skills, O Lord; be pleased with the work of his hands.” Deuteronomy 33:11 NIV.

The Gifts and anointing of the Holy Spirit are invaluable.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Integrity and Skillfulness.”

You have a potential beyond whatever your natural abilities and talents may be. If you wish to realize your potential and be exceptionally successful, there are skills you will need to acquire – intellectual, social, business, writing, speaking, and other practical skills of everyday life that require your best effort and diligent practice. However well you develop your natural skills, there is a spiritual potential that is important to your becoming all that God has designed you to be. Beyond your own best efforts, God offers something more – His blessing and anointing. The Gifts and anointing of the Holy Spirit are invaluable. Without those, the best of yourself will never be realized. Ephesians 4:13 NIV.

In particular, our current theme of “Integrity” has focused on God’s testimony about David from Psalm 78:72 NKJV, “So David shepherded (fed) them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided (led) them by the skillfulness of his hands.” David’s heart aligned with God’s heart. From his heart and hands, David fulfilled God’s ministry assignment to him; David fed and led Israel with integrity and skills. God is interested in both your inner character and outward skills. To fully achieve God’s calling upon your life, both who you are and what you can do will be required.

David demonstrated qualifications of both heart and hands. With a shepherd’s sling David evidenced physical skills to protect his father’s sheep against a lion and a bear, which prepared him to defeat Goliath without fear or hesitation. Read 1 Samuel 17:32-37. Equally important, God used David’s spiritual sensitivities and musical skills to soothe Saul’s troubled spirit and refresh the King with rest. David was described as one, “who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.” Read 1 Samuel 16:16-23. The final phrase is the most important of all that is said about David. That is quite a well-rounded description of attributes.

In matters of ministry and service, a spiritually empty heart results in hands without blessing to God or for man; a heart overflowing with God results in life-giving hands toward others. Jesus was clear, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NIV. There must be consistency of your heart and hands. A simple act of touch has the power of spiritual impartation. A hand reaching out to another offers hope and help. Your hand on a shoulder can encourage. A pat on the back can cheer and congratulate. An embrace can express comfort.

As Moses faced the end of his life, he spoke blessings over the twelve tribes, that had arisen from the twelve sons of Jacob. Moses spoke blessing over Levi, the priestly tribe, “Bless all his skills, O Lord; be pleased with the work of his hands.” Deuteronomy 33:11 NI V. It is interesting to read the entire chapter, Deuteronomy 33. God has personal blessings just for you.

Today, I pray for you that your skills would be blessed and useful to God’s purposes.

Reminder: This is the final of three devotionals, “Integrity and Potential, Integrity of Heart, and Integrity and Skillfulness.” All of this series are available at the EDL website, www.allenrandolph.com. If you have not yet listened to my video teaching on Integrity titled, “Heart and Hands,” I encourage you to do so. Just click on the title here . .

Christian Communications

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