The Great Exchange

November 19th, 2019

Optimism Is The Better Choice.

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace that you may overflow with hope.” Romans 15:13 NIV.

My thoughts and comments are about, “the great exchange.”

Good things are wonderful when they occur, and many times they will. But life cannot always be accurately predicted. Everything that happens to you will not always be good in that moment. It seems presumptuous to assume otherwise. All things do not go well all the time for any of us.

In such a time, trust your worries and fears to your Heavenly Father’s character and will. Paul was assuring that our Father, “knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28 MSG.

Optimism is always a better choice than pessimism. But optimism alone cannot change a present reality. Your present path may feel challenging, harder rather than easier. Hopes you have had may seem blurred by the moment’s doubt. There have been, and will yet be, times when your best efforts fail to accomplish what you hoped. You were diligent yet experienced what then seemed a reversal of fortune by no fault of your own.

Such situations can become befuddling, and you may feel tempted to cut your losses and just try to get through it. In disturbing times, it is better to seek and find a Biblical anchor. Truth brings healing and hope. Hope produces solid footing. No one can live well or long without hope.

Hope was the Apostle Paul’s desire and confidence for every believer. ”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV.

Hope overflows from your heart, and flows to God’s heart, and from God’s heart to your faith, and from your faith to your circumstance. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure . .” Read Hebrews 6:17-20 NIV.

Our Savior will hold you safe and secure when you remain anchored to His Father’s Word by faith and obedience. If you bring it all to Jesus – your broken dreams, your plans that went awry, your best efforts that failed, your heart full of questions, and your disappointments and things not understood – He will restore what was stolen from you.

The process of true freedom requires your voluntary exchange. You give God what looks and feels to you like nothing more than ashes, the residue of yesterday’s reality and tomorrow’s uncertainty. In return, God gives you, “comfort, beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3 NKJ. Now that is the great exchange. Trust your Heavenly Father with all that causes you regret, sadness, and worry. Ask and allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you with His oil of gladness.

My prayer for you today is to fill your heavy heart with the joy of the Lord.

EDL Communications 2019

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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BE YOUR BEST SELF

November 9th, 2019

BE AN ORIGINAL.

 “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right

to become children of God.” John 1:12 NKJ.

My thoughts and comments today are, “be your best self.”

Have you ever imagined being someone else, or at least being more like someone you admire? I think a surprising number of people wistfully think about such a possibility. God has a better idea. Be an original. Just Be your best self. Why be content to be a copy instead of a divine original? The best of copies never duplicates an original creation. Don’t settle for less than the unique person God designed you to become.

Copying others is an inadequate path to achieving your personal potential. Envy of others whose popularity you lack, or whose talents you don’t possess is not a foundation for your own success. There will always be someone who seems to have less worries, better skills, more money, easier paths, or clearer plans.

Consider this. Be practical. If you could, what would you change about yourself? When asked, most people’s answer would likely identify some cosmetic aspect of appearance, or something outward, superficial, and ultimately inconsequential. Imagine if you and I would simply apply ourselves to be clear and more confident about who we are, and more diligent in achieving what we can be.

As a younger man and minister, I found it beneficial to memorize and recite this affirmation. ”I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” That is a way to  be your best self. The surrounding culture offers empty claims that you would be better off, happier, or more satisfied, if you would just be more like the images advertisers project for the products you must buy, cars you must drive, homes you must have, and celebrities you should mimic. What this world sells are hollow promises.

You will be confident and content when you learn to be who God created you to be. Your life is neither random nor accidental. You are an original creation of God’s genius and grace. Don’t choose to be a second-best copy of anyone. You are a bundle of potential and possibility yet to be realized. You are graced with gifts and abilities that are wonderfully your own, distinct from all others.

God was clear, “I know the plans I have for you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. Isn’t that exactly what we are all looking for? God blesses what He creates and accomplishes what He intends. You are made in His image and likeness to be a unique expression of His nature. Paul describes us in this way, ”For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV. Like our English word, “poem,” the Greek word, “poema,” describes, “a creative work of expressive thought.” That is what you and I are in God’s eyes.

Your life and mine are to express God’s creative work of grace as being available to one and all. The source of a successful and satisfying life is your becoming God’s creative work of expressive thought with all you have, in all you do, in all you say, and all you are.

Jesus was clear and consistent. “I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. 29 The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:28-29. He only did what He saw the Father doing and only spoke what He heard His Father saying.

My assigned course is the singular plan and path that God has thoughtfully chosen just for my life, uniquely different from any other. “For I know the plans that I have for you . . plans for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. A future without hope is discouraging. Hope without a future is wishful thinking.

My prayer for you today is to live for the praise and pleasure of your Creator.

EDL Communications 2019

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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EMPTY HEARTS AND STARVED SOULS

October 31st, 2019

 

Superficiality Produces Shallow Lives.

 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom

and knowledge of God!” Romans 11:33 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“EMPTY HEARTS AND STARVED SOULS.”

 Life should be rich in experience and satisfying of heart and will be if you will not content for less. Superficiality is quicker and simpler but never provides the depth of satisfaction and fulfillment you are meant to enjoy. Too often, people live small, boring lives lacking both depth and breadth.

Empty hearts and starved souls produce shallow lives. Those words aptly describe too many of us. I find it unfortunate when a person casually regards matters they should esteem greatly, yet highly value things they should regard casually. Some people could be described as, “a mile wide but only a foot deep.”

Your number of Facebook friends is not equivalent to meaningful friendships. Relationships necessitate mutual time and attention to appreciate and nurture. You can Google an endless volume of information and yet lack knowledge and wisdom. Those admirable qualities require a learner’s heart as well as life experience.

Traditional media offers quick sound bites about global complexities for people who would rather be told what they should think than to deliberate about how they should think. Deliberation requires reliable information and thoughtful reflection. In “Christian America,” there are many people who know a lot about God, but far fewer who personally know God in ways that govern their lives and shape their lifestyles.

Dabbling in spiritual matters never satisfies your soul. Shallow lives result in surface relationships with spouses, children, friends . . . and with God. The result is fragile marriages, struggling families, shallow friendships, starved souls, and empty hearts. Superficial lives usually result from lack of clarity and direction more than lack of effort.

People work hard for a productive life, a healthy family, and meaningful relationships. The problem is this. Effort alone does not equate with effectiveness. People really haven’t changed much since Jesus walked the dusty roads and shores of ancient Palestine. Read Luke 5:1-11.

When a crowd pressed to hear Jesus, He chose an empty boat from which to teach. Men who knew well this sea had fished all night, but had little but weariness for their efforts, just a wasted day leaving them to beach their boats, clean their nets, and try again another day. Life can be like that, large investments of time and energy with little return. Jesus not only has the answer to meaningful and profitable lives. Jesus Himself is the Answer! “I am the Way, the Truth, and the life.” John 14:6 NKJ. You will be lost without Him.

Jesus offers an invitation to people exactly like that – “weary and burdened.” See Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Jesus’ advice to those tired fishermen remains the same for today’s dissatisfied lives, left at the end of the day or week with only a few dollars, tired bodies and empty hearts. Jesus’ encouragement to you and me holds great promise when embraced with faith and obeyed, “Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and you will catch many fish.” Luke 5:4 NLT.

When life is empty for you in the shallows, God offers you satisfaction and success, a little further out and a little deeper. Imagine their amazement. Those seasoned fishermen were, “awestruck by the size of their catch, as were the others with them.” Luke 5:9. God has bigger and better things for those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. Casual seekers need not apply.

A large, fulfilling life is not found by the overly cautious, perennial doubters, or those wanting to live without some measure of personal investment, sacrifice, and risk. Paul best described our gracious, generous God, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” Romans 11:33 NIV.

The deeper and richer things of God are reserved for the sincere, non-superficial inquirer. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT. God’s best is kept for people unwilling to live in the shallows. Read Ezekiel 47:1-10 NKJ.

My prayer for you today is to cultivate a sincere heart for God’s best.

EDL Communications 2019

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Grace is Amazing

October 24th, 2019

 

Failure Is Not Final.

 ”From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.”  John 1:16 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,“grace is amazing.”

History is a story of both efforts and attempts, success and failure. If you have never made a mistake, you were not attempting much of consequence, or not trying very much, or not accomplishing anything very important. History bears evidence to that. Thomas Edison failed five hundred times to invent the light bulb but didn’t stop until he succeeded. Eventually, he was successful because he didn’t quit trying and believing his idea could be achieved. Babe Ruth, a legendary baseball hitter known for career home runs, is remembered for his successes not his strikeouts.

Success and failure are common to all. Your best intention may not be achievable. Your best effort may fall short of your intent. Your best judgment may be inadequate. Your impulsiveness will produce regret. Your words or actions will hurt someone you never meant to hurt. Those are not the same as failures of character or lack of integrity. They are simply results of our common humanity.

Failures are not comparable. They are not all equal, not from the same source, not with the same cause and consequence. Failure may be something you do or a mistake you make. The good news is this. Your history need not define your destiny. God specializes in redemption.

Failure is not final, unless you allow it to be. Read Hebrews 11. Many of the revered names in the Bible’s chapter of champions would have been a mere footnote in history if their stories had ended with their mistakes. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul, and all the others. Instead, their stories are a tribute to God’s redemptive and amazing grace. They failed but they chose not remain failures. Their obedience and faith in God gave them strength to become more than they had been or would have become without the Lord.

Peter spoke before thinking. He reacted without considering. He failed often and on a grand scale. Jesus warned Peter about his natural tendency, but also assured him that even his failure could be redeemable and become useful to help others. “When you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32 NKJ. Peter returned to Jesus, learned from his failure, and spared others from theirs. There is much that failure will teach you, if you are willing to listen and learn.

Don’t give up on yourself. Jesus doesn’t. You can be wiser. You can do better. Turn away from failure; do not keep repeating it stubbornly. Bring your failures to Jesus, who alone can give you forgiveness and a fresh start. Seek and receive God’s wisdom, when yours has been inadequate. When asked, share your experiences to help others to avoid the same mistakes. Failure need not be the end of your story. A loving, forgiving God offers you a new place to begin anew.

You may be tempted to judge yourself by a failure of the moment, but Jesus looks upon you in grace and sees both your past and your potential. A Savior sees what you are becoming rather than what you have been. I love this beautiful Bible verse, “To as many as believed on His name.” John 1:12. NKJ. Grace is God’s gift and remedy for your failures and mistakes.

 In faith, I intend to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of the Lord forever.” Matthew 25:21 NKJ. The last word over your life can be God’s commendation, not condemnation. As Paul wrote to the believers at Rome, “There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 NKJ. His grace is truly amazing.

My prayer for you today is to walk before God in forgiveness and freedom.

EDL Communications 2019

Website and archives: allenrandolph.com

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Ultimate Questions

October 19th, 2019
“ULTIMATE QUESTIONS”
 
Leave no Doubt.
”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Romans 8:35 NIV.
 
Questions! Everyone has them, because it is impossible to know what you don’t know. Daily life is full of questions while offering few answers. But you can learn if you look where truth and wisdom can be found. Truth and wisdom rest in the Creator of all. The Bible foretold the nature of the Savior Who would come, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2 NKJ.
 
In the fertile ground of reverence, wisdom grows. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Questions encourage your desire to learn and when correctly answered, your knowledge increases.
 
Questions are good if they lead you to the right answers. If you don’t have questions and ask them, and understand the answers, you won’t know more than you already know. Without truth you will never increase in practical wisdom. Seek truth. Truth is the seedbed of wisdom. Solomon asked God for one thing. He asked for wisdom. Solomon wrote the wisdom books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
 
From both his successes and failures, Solomon learned, “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 NKJ. That is great advice still. Without wisdom and knowledge, you neither learn nor grow. Knowledge provides information. Wisdom promotes inspiration. When you are not growing, you will not fulfill your God-given purpose in life.
 
Since I was a university student, this has been a life-verse for me, “That I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJ. In my lifetime, I have had my share of questions. Everyone does. Life doesn’t always appear to make sense at a given moment.
When life is confusing and you have more questions than answers, you can rest, In the Father and His Son, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 NKJ. Paul viewed his life from God’s vantage point. “Now we see things imperfectly . . then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 NLT.
In God’s Word, you discover wisdom and truth. Acquaint yourself with God’s Word. You will always find truth and wisdom there. Above all else, one question must not remain unclear or unanswered. Ask yourself, “where will I spend eternity?” That is the ultimate question. Let me be clear. This is the ultimate truth, “Salvation is in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NKJ. Jesus is His name.
 
Paul wrote with triumph and conviction, ”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Read Romans 8:36-39 NKJ. Those words are your ultimate assurance.
 
My prayer for you today is to be assured that you have settled eternal matters.
 
EDL Communications 2019
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