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Anticipation

January 5th, 2018

Anticipate Grace and Goodness.

“You crown the year with Your goodness.”

Psalm 65:11 NKJV.

My comments today encourage you to, “Anticipate Grace.”

Years earlier, I read a poem that I occasionally recall, especially at the start of a new year.

I wish that there were some wonderful place, In the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, And all of our poor selfish grief, Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, and never put on again.

I wish we could come on it all unaware, Like the hunter who finds a lost trail; And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done, The greatest injustice of all, Could be there at the gates, like an old friend that waits, For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.

We would find all the things we intended to do, But forgot, and remembered too late, Little praises unspoken, little promises broken, And all the thousand and one, Little duties neglected that might have perfected, The day for one less fortunate.

It wouldn’t be possible not to be kind, In the Land of Beginning Again, And the ones we misjudged, and the ones whom we grudged, their moments of victory here, Would find in the grasp of our loving hand-clasp, More than penitent lips could explain.

So I wish that there were some wonderful place, Called the Land of Beginning Again, Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, And all of our poor selfish grief, Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, And never put on again.

Louisa Fletcher 1878-1957, “The Land of Beginning Again”

Regrets. We all have them. Grace. We are all offered that. Any year can end with uncompleted plans, unachieved goals, and lingering uncertainty about the road ahead. Along the way, we seem to accumulate spiritual and emotional baggage from regrets, hurts, disappointments in ourselves or others, and unfinished business. Wouldn’t you like to not drag those into another year? Against the backdrop of such things, we should remember God’s promise, “’I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11-12 NIV. Hope without a future is meaningless, as is a future without hope.

In this new year, anticipate God’s grace and goodness, expressed in fresh beginnings unencumbered by the weight of past mistakes and regrets. “My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:5-6 NLT. For you, God offers a fresh opportunity overflowing with certainty that your past is settled in grace, and abounding with confidence that the present is secure in His providence, and brimming with courage that all which is now unknown is securely held in God’s hands.

And of this, you can affirm about our God, “You crown the year with a bountiful harvest: even your hard pathways overflow with abundance.” Read Psalm 65:11 NLT. Every path ahead may not be easy, but every path where He leads will be graced by His loving presence and ample provision.

This is among my favorite promises from God’s Word. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NKJV. In Jesus Christ, always awaiting you is, “a land of new beginnings.” Don’t drag the old year into the new; allow the new year to redeem the old. Anticipate grace and goodness.

Today, I pray for you to know you are graced by God and crowned with His goodness.

Christian Communications 2018

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Fragments

December 1st, 2014

“Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” John 6:12 NKJV.

God is very good with fragments.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fragments.”

There are not many things, if any, that are truly unbreakable. Things break. Some broken things can be repaired; some can be replaced; some cannot. People experience broken plans, broken dreams, broken hearts, broken marriages and families, or even broken lives. Some things can be fixed; others cannot. Life can be fragile. Lives can be left in shambles, frequently by one’s own mistakes but occasionally as the result of another’s words or actions. More than you may notice, hurting people are waiting, even longing, for someone to gather their broken pieces and restore healing and wholeness. That’s what God does all the time. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

From years earlier, in my heart I can still hear the voice of my friend, Kenny, singing a touching song, “He’s the Healer of broken hearts; He will mend your shattered dreams. He will pick up the threads of your broken life and He’ll weave them together again. To your soul He brings peace and rest. A friend indeed He’ll always be. For He’s the Healer of broken hearts. This Jesus of Galilee.” My thoughts today rest on a few words, simple but profoundly true. “God is very good with fragments.” Consider those words. Fragments are what remains when your life seems to fall apart. God is genius at putting lives back together again. Be assured, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart.” Psalm 34:18 NKJV.

One of my favorite miracles is the feeding of the multitude along the shores of Galilee. See John 6:1-14. A crowd of thousands followed Jesus to an isolated place and listened late in the day to His teaching about the Kingdom of God. In concern for the people, Jesus miraculously multiplied the five small loaves and two fish of a young boy’s lunch to feed 5,000 men, besides women and children, until “they were filled.” Jesus can do more with what you lack than you and I can do with all we have. John writes, “Jesus said, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost’ . . they filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:12-13. When God works in your life no fragments are wasted, no pieces missing. “God is very good with fragments.”

The Bible is full of the stories of men and women whose lives were just broken pieces, people left with only the fragments of their shattered hopes and expectations. A woman of Samaria was drawing water at Jacob’s well at the unlikely time of midday when Jesus paused on His journey through Samaria to Galilee. Read John 4:1-18. It was providence more than geography that brought their lives together that fateful day. Jesus touched the brokenness of her life and everything of the past was changed. Vs. 19-30.

Simon Peter was shattered by his denial and betrayal of Jesus, until he found Jesus waiting for him on the seashore. See John 21:1-17. Peter and friends fished all night and caught nothing, until Jesus told them to cast their nets on the “right side of the boat.” A miraculous, almost unmanageable, catch resulted. Once ashore, Jesus took the fragments of a broken man and with the affirmation of Peter’s confession of love restored a broken man with tenderness and compassion. Isa 42:3 NASV. “God is very good with fragments.”

If there ever were dreams that were lofty and noble, they were my dreams at the start. And hope for life’s best were the hopes that I harbor down deep in my heart, but my dreams turned to ashes and my castles all crumbled; my fortune turned to loss. So I wrapped it all in the rags of life and laid it at the cross. Something beautiful, something good; all my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife; but he made something beautiful of my life.” Bill Gaither.

What do you do when your world falls apart, when your life is in shambles, when your heart is broken, when your faith is shattered, when your future seems lost, when your sins overwhelm you? You pick up the pieces, bring them to Jesus and then watch the miracle begin. “You are complete in Christ.” Colossians 2:9-10. Read Hebrews 13:20-21/ Philippians 1:6.

The Kingdom of God is all about fragments and baskets; baskets are required to contain the abundance God brings out of your fragments. “God is very good with fragments.”

I have included a Link below of an inspiring Music Video of Fred Hammond at The Potter’s H0use. His comment in the video that, “God is very good with fragments,” prompted my thoughts and comments today. Enjoy!

Fred and Donnie Hammond at The Potter’s House

Today, my prayer for you is to know the faithfulness of God to make you complete in Christ.

Christian Communications, Inc.

You pick up the pieces, bring them to Jesus and then watch the miracle begin. “You are complete in Christ.” Colossians 2:9-10. Read Hebrews 13:20-21/ Philippians 1:6.

 

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Relationships

May 9th, 2014

“A person is a fool to . . not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT.

A right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship, both life-long and eternal.

My thoughts and comments today are about “relationships.”

Life is about relationships. The best of life is empty without them. You may seem to have everything, but if you lack mutual and meaningful relationships what you have will never be what you desire. The best of good things can never substitute for a heartfelt closeness with family and friends. That’s where true richness of life can be found, but with one very important addition. A righteous relationship with God is the most important relationship you will ever have.

It is easy to be occupied with what you think God wants from you, and offer Him many good and worthwhile things. All the while, you could fail to give God the one thing He most wants – yourself. God is not dependent on you and me for anything that He cannot readily and abundantly provide for Himself, except for one thing that only you can give Him, your love and your life. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NKJV. Your life is a gift from God; what you do with your life is your gift to God.

What God most wants from you, and wants most for you, is a rich relationship with Him, for you to experience spiritual intimacy that is fulfilling and life affirming. Jesus exposed the foolishness of lacking that relationship, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Read Luke 12:16-21 NLT. Be wise, not foolish. Jesus does not teach against wealth. He warns against the foolishness of thinking that anything could ever be enough without a rich, personal relationship with God. This warning is not just about wealth; Jesus warns of accepting anything or anyone as a substitute for the singular relationship you cannot be without.

“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . they should be rich in good works . . by doing this they will be storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT. Only a genuine relationship with God “gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . as a good foundation for the future.”

Life is about relationships. Spiritual life is not about religion; your spiritual life is about righteous relationships – a real, personal relationship with God and right relatedness with others that begins now and continues throughout eternity. Jesus’ sacrifice was to reconcile you to God. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV. Offering you a right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship with God, both life-long and eternal.

What would such a relationship with God would look like for you? As importantly, what do you think would be required of you to have such a relationship with God? I would suggest that a rich relationship with God would be mutual, authentic, practical, loving, continually transforming, and always growing.

My prayer for you today is to know God in a way that transforms all you are and do.

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A Christmas Change

December 26th, 2012

Christmas as a heart experience is forever.

When the angels had gone away into Heaven . .” Luke 2:15 NKJV.

The wait for Christmas seems interminable. Then each day grows busier and busier with preparations until the day arrives. The family and friends gather; the dinner is served and enjoyed; family gifts are shared, and carols sung. But then what? Inevitably, Christmas as a calendar event concludes. But Christmas as a heart experience is forever. I would suggest that how you enter the Christmas celebration is not as personally impactful as how you exit the occasion.

Consider Joseph and Mary’s experience of angels’ visitations, shepherds’ hurry and wonder, royalty’s worship and lavish gifts, then life returns to normal or unfolds in ways you could not have imagined. Obviously, Joseph and Mary could never be the same as they had been before the wonder of that amazing, miraculous night in Bethlehem’s stable. But the initial aftermath was not as idyllic as you might expect it should have been. Disruption appeared to be their new normal. Christmas does not mean that everything will always be pretty and peaceful. An angel came again to Joseph in a dream, warning of Herod’s evil determination to destroy the young Messiah. “. . flee to Egypt and stay there until I bring you word . . when he arose, he took the young child and his mother and departed for Egypt. And was there until the death of Herod.” Read Matthew 2:13-23 NKJV.

In Luke’s masterful narrative of the Christmas angels singing to shepherds on a Judean hillside, there came the inevitable moment, “When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven . .” Predictably, angels return to Heaven and people return to everyday life, forever changed by such moments of Heavenly encounter. “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go and see this thing . . which the Lord has told us’ . . The shepherds returned [to their flocks] glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:15-16 NKJV. Angels return to Heaven, but there are lives to be lived, families to provide for, responsibilities to be fulfilled, and work to be done – but also an unbelievable story to be told.

And Matthew writes of a similar experience for those royal visitors from afar, “They departed to their own country another way.” Matthew 2:12 NKJV. I know that is merely describing the different geography of their journey home, but I cannot avoid the application that life is never quite the same after you have seen and worshiped the Christ. Read Matthew 2:1-12 NKJV. A person cannot bow at Christmas with true heart and worship and be the same as they were. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV. Christmas changes routines, shifts priorities, adjusts values, and even alters lives. Ultimately, Christmas will pass but the Savior can and will change your life forever. Christmas is not about the pageantry of mangers, angels, shepherds, or Eastern kings; Christmas is about a Savior who changes lives now and forever. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God . .” See 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that change came with Christmas and remains long after.

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Real Relationships

August 29th, 2012

“It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV

When mutuality is imbalanced, relational intimacy is elusive.

My thoughts and comments today are about “real relationships.”

Success in life involves establishing mutually beneficial relationships. There will be associations that a person may seek out of their own sense of need or from their willingness to sacrifice to meet another’s need. But the relationships that endure and grow are those that become mutually beneficial – something is given and something is received. Marriage may be the best illustration of this principle. Marriage will be neither satisfactory not successful unless both partners are giving generously and receiving gratefully. When mutuality is imbalanced, relational intimacy is elusive. In a measure, that principle is true in friendships, families, and work relationships as well.

But there is a vast difference between community and being in a crowd. Have you ever wondered why we are drawn to where the crowd is? A crowd can be a lonely place when you are a stranger there. People pack the same venues, sporting events, restaurants, and churches, looking for a place where they are not alone, looking for closeness that is never found in the crowd. The satisfaction and belonging you seek cannot be found in a crowd but is found in fellowship with God and in the surrounding company of Godly community. You were created for community; by God’s design, meaningful community is the setting in which people thrive.

Soon after creation of Adam and as incentive to create Eve, Adam’s helpmate, God declared a truth that is repeated again and again in Scripture, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV. After everything that God created and pronounced, “very good,” God stated clearly that Adam’s relational aloneness was “not good.” Adam had perfect surroundings, safety and security, ample provision, and meaningful responsibilities – literally everything a person could want or need, except for the lack of companionship.

The Psalmist understood the same truth when he observed, “God sets the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6 NKJV. Solomon stated mutual benefits unequivocally, “Two are better than one . . [one] who is alone . . has no one to help him.” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NKJV. And of course, the New Testament is replete with direction about “one another” “love one another, serve one another, forgive one another, comfort one another, edify one another, hospitable to one another, submitting to one another, devoted to one another,” and many, many other such practical expressions of life in community. Salvation is to restore mutual and beneficial relationship with God first, and then with others. See 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NLT.

Friendship is a valuable thing, a design of God Himself for the fullest realization of what He made each person to be and do. My shortcomings and under-achievements are my own doing, not the fault of others. The longer I have lived the more I realize the preponderance of credit goes to others for whatever good I have done and whatever good I have become. At the heart of every meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship, you find the fingerprints of God. When you are ready to be that kind of friend, God makes the proper introductions to have that kind of friends.

My prayer for you today is that you become the friend you wish others to be for you.

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