A Peace that Surpasses Understanding

December 13th, 2017

Where Christ governs, peace is found.

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a peace that surpasses understanding.”

Peace is most precious to those who are without it. But true peace is elusive for many because, though they long for it, they do not know where such peace can be found. Our world is much like the world into which Jesus was born. Armies, hostilities, occupying forces, political and religious divisions were all the order of the day, then as now. Rulership was imposed by the strongest upon the weakest and the most brutal upon the most vulnerable, as today.

Yet Jesus came from the Father and was declared by angels as the Prince of Peace whose arrival was into exactly that kind of troubled world. “Suddenly a great company of the Heavenly Host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’” Luke 2:13-14 NIV. Peace will never come by the force of men’s armies and political alliances. The Bible speaks of three expressions of God’s peace which Jesus gives that the world cannot.

Most importantly and foundational to all peace, there must be peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Read Romans 5:1-2 NIV. Such expressions of peace are only available to the one who has accepted Jesus’ invitation to live at, “peace with God,” surrendering to living life on God’s gracious terms, without hostility toward His Law and will.

There is peace from God. That comes only from Jesus, Who said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you, not as the world gives, neither can it take it away.” John 14:27 NLT. Peace from God is when a supernatural tranquility rests in your heart without regard to difficulty and distress.

Also, there is the peace of God. This peace is experienced as an unexplainable measure of well being and contentment that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Read Galatians 5:19-25 NIV. Those attributes are in stark contrast with those who live apart from the peace of God, as evidenced by, “discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions.” There is no earthly experience of peacefulness that compares with God’s peace, which is the very expression of His own character and conduct.

Imagine with me a time and place where it will truly be said, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:7 NIV. When will that time come, and where can that be found? Where Christ governs, peace reigns. Isaiah foresaw a day in which it would be true. “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV. The answer is simple and clear. Where Christ governs, only there will true peace be found. Until you are at peace with God, you will not be at peace within yourself, will not find peace of mind, nor can you live at peace with others.

Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is knowing the living presence of Jesus, whatever the doubts, distress, or dangers of the moment. Peace does not come from your surroundings. Peace does not come from all men being in agreement. Peace starts in your heart, when you make all things right with God. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “’Peace, peace, to those far and near,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will heal them.’ But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” Isaiah 57:19-21 NIV.

This promise can be your confidence; “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You.” Isaiah 26.3 NKJV. My Christmas wish for you can be stated in the words of the Apostle Paul. “Now may the God of peace be with you all.” Romans 15:33 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be enveloped with enduring peace that cannot be disturbed.

Christian Communications 2017

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Strength from Weakness

December 6th, 2017

God’s Word in your spirit echoes His truth.

“As your days, so shall your strength be.”

Deuteronomy 33:25

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“Strength from Weakness.”

Most everyone has certain words, ideas, or convictions that shape and direct their journey, maybe from something they read or from someone’s advice or experience with which they identified. Such words become a fixed point, a North Star, from which you can navigate daily life.

Beware of the world’s noise and be suspect of the cacophony of its errant suppositions. Along your journey, when you are seeking and listening for God’s voice, He will speak a word to teach and guide you. God promised, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV. It is important that you give God opportunity, and critically important that you listen carefully and obey when He does.

Across my seasons of my life and circumstances, I have found God’s promises true and available exactly when I needed them most. Such a word from God, spoken into your spirit, instantly echoes with truth and becomes a fixed point from which you can then safely navigate the moment, confidently chart the course ahead, as well as mark the progress of your journey.

You must find a dynamic balance between those who feel a helpless paralysis, afraid to do anything or afraid of doing the wrong thing until God has spoken, or the presumptive casualness of others going full speed ahead while assuming God will just speak if and when He chooses. Either would be an uncomfortable extreme for me. I want to walk wisely according to the Word, while listening for the gentle voice of the Spirit to direct my steps and choices along the way. I want to live in such a way that I am always attentive to God, welcoming His voice and wisdom at all times, while living confidently in the moment.

Some years ago, my Mom suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was not expected to live through the night. God gave us another seven weeks with her before her death. The first week at the hospital was numbing and wearying for me, praying for her recovery but knowing that any hour might be her last. One night as I trudged home from the hospital exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I felt God quietly whisper into my heart, “As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25. God’s Word in your spirit echoes His truth.

I was too tired to ask for such a word and not at all expecting it, but God spoke when and what I most needed to hear. I recognized the familiarity of those words from the Bible, and later looked up the verse, to find the added strength of the following words accompanying His promise, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27. I cannot describe the strength, assurance, and comfort those simple words made at that moment, and in the several weeks that followed, and still to this day. When you feel most alone and without strength, you are neither alone nor without strength when God is with you.

I was glad that I had previously hidden God’s Word in my heart and recognized His promise from the Bible. Every night following, I went to bed knowing the sufficiency of God, and every morning I awakened confident of His abiding, daily supply of strength. These years later, I still walk each day in that gift from the Lord given to my heart. Like the manna God provided to Israel, they could gather only enough for each day. But His provision for each day was sufficient and exactly enough. Strength isn’t physically bankable. “To those who have no might, He increases strength . . But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary.” Read Isaiah 40:29-31.

There will be much about tomorrow that you cannot know now and may not understand then; but nothing that God does not know. When you know that His strength will be equal to each day’s responsibilities and necessities, you will live with anticipation and confidence. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Read Proverbs 3:5-10 NIV. Our Father has promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your weakness].  With Paul, you can know that, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Today, I pray for you to recognize God’s voice amid the confusion of so much other noise.

Christian Communications 2017
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Sharing the Joy

December 1st, 2017

Christmas is sharing the good news with others

 “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people . . a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “sharing the joy.”

I love this season of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite times. They are calendar events but so much more. I enjoy their accent of my three priorities: faith, family, and friends. We gather together to give thanks for the bounty of God’s goodness and provision, and soon after we gather again with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus and His coming to earth as the Savior of the world! As thankfulness distinguishes the first, joy validates the latter. Can you even imagine the spectacular pageantry that first Christmas? To say the least, Angels and Kings and shepherds are unusual companions. The message of Christmas is simple and direct, “Good News of great joy for all the people.” Read Luke 2:8-20 NKJV.

How could anyone improve on the Angels announcement? “I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people . . a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 NIV. Good news! Great joy! For all people! What was the shepherds’ immediate response? They believed the truth and they shared the joy. “They came with haste . . and when they had seen Him . . they made known abroad what was told them concerning the Child.” My premise is this: Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you share the Good News. Your joy is incomplete until shared with others. I have observed the truth of that. Joy is the purest and fullest when given to others, freely and extravagantly.

I see three common behaviors to avoid. Don’t let the world run away with the party. It is easy to be disappointed by the superficial hype and hoopla the world attaches to the holiday. Their superficiality exposes that they lack any real cause for celebrating. They must pretend the good times, because they have not heard and believed the Good Tidings. Our celebration should out shine theirs

Don’t trudge wearily through the season, unable to be released into its joy. Avoid being wearied by the frantic pace and artificial merriment the culture imposes, or emotionally overwhelmed by your own disappointment or difficulty. The most world changing event of history deserves your full celebration. The simple truth is, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Read Nehemiah 8:10-12 NLT. Why wouldn’t we throw a party the world would be unavoidably drawn toward? Why don’t we become people the lost would long to become? Why can’t we incarnate the message the unbelieving world could not help but embrace?

Do make the Good Tidings available and the great joy believable. Sharing the joy must become your passion and purpose. Our message should be, “Unto you is born a Savior.” Our passion must be to, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The Greek word, “evanggelion,” is translated into English as, “good tidings.” You can notice the similarity to evangelism and evangelist. As were the Angels at His birth, you and I are to be everyday evangelists proclaiming the Gospel of His birth, life, death, and resurrection as Savior to all men.

A friend expressed our task this way, “In every way, preach Jesus. When necessary, use words.” Your life and mine is to shine the light and bring hope to a sin darkened world. “How beautiful [is the one] who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation.” Isaiah 52:7 NKJV. Together, let our voice and His Word be heard, “Because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:14-15 NIV. Let this Christmas season be life-giving to someone because you shared the joy.

Today, I pray for you to experience a truly joy-filled Christmas season and celebration.

Christian Communications 2017

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Giving Thanks Is God’s Will

November 29th, 2017

Giving thanks honors God and values others.

 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are that,

“giving thanks is God’s will.” 

This year, our family decided to have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner outside, rather than in our dining room as has been customary. With four generations, along with friends, that is quite a full house. Our son and daughter along with their spouses, and our ever-growing family circle of grandkids with their spouses, and great grandkids from five years old and younger, gathered with friends from in town and out, as well as new friends from Romania. It was a beautiful, pleasant day with much conversation and lots of memories – some with tears – but most with joy and gratefulness.

Around large wooden cable spools for serving and dining, we visited and ate under the shade of Mesquite and Huisache trees – with curious visits from our dogs, miniature donkeys, and Hercules (our son’s horse). After a few moments of grateful Communion (a tradition begun by request of a grandson a few years earlier), plates were filled with turkey and ham, mashed and sweet potatoes, vegetables, salads followed by pumpkin pies, pumpkin crunch cake, banana pudding, and assorted Bundt cakes. Needless to say, no one went away hungry.

As the evening came, the great grandkids became the focus, enjoying rides across the pasture in the jeep with their dad, or down the road in a wagon pulled by a doting grandpa. As the sun faded and shadows lengthened, family and friends sat around a warming fire and laughed and remembered moments of life together, until farewells and bed time. We remain thankful to God for His faithfulness, and to one another for friendship.

My thought today is this. Thankfulness honors God and values others. Giving thanks is a lifestyle. Thanksgiving is just one special day on our American calendar. The apostle Paul encouraged true believers, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV. When do you give thanks? Always! For what do you give thanks? Everything! To Whom do you give thanks? To God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul seemed astonished when he described unthankful people. “They knew God, but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks.” Read Romans 1:20-23 NLT. Giving thanks is the doorway to worship. Read Psalm 100 NIV.

Paul was consistent, even insistent, in his instructions to New Testament Christians, “Be Thankful . . Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through [Christ Jesus].” Colossians 3:16-17 NIV. The seeds of gratitude in your heart are the source from which giving thanks flows in your words and through your life. The Apostle Paul was clear. Whatever your circumstances of the moment, you always have cause to give thanks. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

That indescribable Gift is Jesus, God’s Son who died on the cross for your sins and mine, and rose again from the grave, ascending to Heaven so that you and I may have eternal life with Him. “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.

The writer of Hebrews summarized my thoughts better than I could, “Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to never remain silent when you have every reason to give thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2017

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Gratitude and Thankfulness

November 22nd, 2017

Thanksgiving is the language of gratitude.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.” Psalm 95:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Gratitude and Thankfulness”

Thanksgiving is the language of gratitude. God loves a grateful, thankful heart. I think those two words of similar meaning can be distinguished in this way. Gratitude is a noble attitude just as thankfulness is a worthy practice. Gratitude is the emotion experienced. Thankfulness is that emotion expressed. The covert emotion of gratitude is tangibly expressed in the simplicity of overt thankfulness. Stated more simply, gratitude displays its joyful heart with a thankful lifestyle. Gratitude is so much more than an emotion of a moment. Thanksgiving is the lifestyle of expressing sincere and heartfelt gratitude to God and others.

Why would we not be thankful? Paul’s question to the Christians at Corinth is relevant, “Who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV. Boasting in what you have denies the charity of the gift from God and your responsibility to reflect the same to others. Humility, thankfulness, and generosity are always very much in order.

As each new day dawns, your God offers the abounding blessings of a new beginning, an amazing grace, a true forgiveness, an uplifting encouragement, a fresh hope, a strong faith, a real joy, and more than adequate strength to successfully meet whatever challenge the day requires. “As your day, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25 NKJV. I have long found strength and encouragement by the promise within that remarkable verse. His strength to you is in proportion to what the day requires of you.

This week in our nation, we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. For many that day will be little more than a festive holiday, a day for family and friends to gather for a holiday meal, with side dishes and desserts of every description. But such a day should also be a thankful remembrance of the faithfulness of God, the fellowship of family and friends, and your gratitude for God’s providence throughout the year behind and ahead. We have so much for which to be thankful and His invitation to experience more. Read Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Solomon wisely observed, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV. There is no end to God’s mercies, no limit to His grace, and no measure of His goodness. Therefore, “Continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV. Overflowing with thankfulness!

This season of Thanksgiving, look past your present struggles or previous challenges, whatever they have been or may be at the moment. Decide with the Psalmist David, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 NKJV. Praise always wins. In praise and blessing, you see the full brilliance of His grace, the abounding nature of His love, the generous supply of His daily provision, and your privilege to respond with thanksgiving to God. Read Psalm 95:2-3 NKJV. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 NIV.

You will discover that you have more for which to be thankful than things about which to complain or regret. And life is best when you look past things distressing to all that is blessing. There is ample evidence of blessings that abound. Read 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 NKJV. The sincere giving of thanks is your fitting benediction for God’s goodness to you. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to make your life a resounding Amen to what God has spoken.

On a personal note:

Gayle and I wish you a Blessed Thanksgiving as you gather with family and friends to give thanks to God for His goodness and provision. We are thankful for you  and for the months or years that you ave been a part of the circle of readers of EveryDay Life. Your recommendation of EDL to your friends has helped us to reach a broadening circle of readers. And your kind emails of how God has used a specific devotional to brighten your day remains encouraging. This has been our 10th year of writing and publishing EDL. We are grateful to God for your partnership and encouragement . . . Blessings!  

Christian Communications 2017

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