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New Life

January 1st, 2016

“We too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 NIV.

Your choices today shape your life tomorrow.

My thoughts and comments today are about “new life.”

A New Year always seems a brief but welcome invitation to a fresh start. In the change of calendar, an opportunity is presented to change what has been and what can be. The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome that their faith in Christ provided the possibility and power that, “we too may live a new life.” Read Romans 6:4-11 NIV. In my spiritual journey, the beginning of a year has often been pivotal.

When just ten years old, I made a life-long decision to know and serve Jesus. In a New Year’s Revival in my father’s church, Mrs. Rice, a Sunday School teacher, asked to pray with me. In the first days of 1952, I committed my young life to Jesus and found the “new life” the Bible promises.

Years later as an adult and pastor in San Jose, California, and in the first minutes of January 1975, an elderly church member, Mrs. Eaton, was going home from the New Year’s Eve service when she asked her husband to turn around and return to the church. God had given her a message for me. Everyone but the janitor and I were already gone as she walked down the center aisle of that semi-darkened church, straight toward me. She told me how God had spoken to her, took my hands in hers, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “Pastor Allen, God asked me to tell you, ‘He loves you, and He is not finished with you.’” With that, she turned and left me alone with God.

Everything changed inside my heart. Apart from God, she could not have known what I had told no one. With the New Year, I would seek a career in business. That would have been a tragic mistake, forever altering the direction of my life and diminishing the destiny of our family. When I think of our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren today, I am grateful for the mercies and faithfulness of God. In those earliest minutes of a New Year, God’s personal word to me of His care and calling continues to shape my life and our family today. Again, I found a fresh measure of “new life” in Christ.

Only God could have known that in the spring of that same year, the invitation to pastor Trinity Church here in San Antonio would be extended to me, where Gayle and I continued to serve joyfully for more than 36 years. God’s faithfulness in those first moments of a new year protected me and our family from an error of judgment that would have changed everything about our lives since. Remember. The choices you make today shape your future as well as the future of others. Choose prayerfully and carefully. Being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is more consequential than you can foresee.

The world anticipates this New Year in hope of things being better, their lives being different than they were. A change of calendar changes nothing without a significant, spiritual change in your heart. You will not embrace new life fully until you are sick and tired of who you’ve been. The problem is that things once done are not easily undone. You alone cannot alter the past; the good news is that with God’s help, you can. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal . .” Read Philippians 3:13-14 NIV.

Real change is not cosmetic; it requires a different course and transformed character. My friend and mentor, Kenny, always reminded me and others, “You won’t have a New Year without becoming a new you.” These earliest, beginning moments of a new year offer an opportune time to lay old things aside and begin anew, experiencing a fresh start and lasting change. What do you need to change for you to be new again?

The church and every Christ-follower can celebrate the New Year, grateful to God that He has taken away the old mistakes and sins of your past, and given forgiveness and a fresh start in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. You can embrace God’s promise and power for “new life” any time you are ready and willing.

God’s Word gives good advice for your transition into the New Year, “Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of faith . .” Hebrews 12:1-2 NAS. I bid farewell to the year just past, grateful for God’s faithfulness and provision; I embrace this new year anticipating God’s gracious providence and wondrous possibilities.

Today, I pray for you to release anything that hurts or hinders your spiritual progress.

Christian Communications

Family picture Nov 2015 EDIT

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Christmas Time

December 5th, 2014

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” Galatians 4:4 NIV.

God achieves His eternal purposes in the calendar and daily appointments of your life.

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

Christmas is a good time to thoughtfully examine life. Fast paces and busy schedules leave little time for purposeful reflection. Hurrying with little time to spare or running late and borrowing scarce minutes from the next event on your schedule, life becomes a blur. Lives are lived in a rush, wanting everything right now.

God’s plans rarely, if ever, coincide with your calendar. Nor does He submit them for your approval. But God is never late, though sometimes it may feel to you like He is. The psalmist trusted his times to God’s timing. “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIV. God has an impeccable sense of timing; your objective should be to synchronize your life with God’s plans and His calendar. “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord, and He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT.

The Christmas narrative begins in the story of Zachariah, a priest of the Levites, and his wife, Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary. As a young, loving couple they anticipated their first child as so many others have. Year after year they waited, until their dream adjusted to their reality. Apparently, they reasoned, they desired a child they would not have. Eventually, Zachariah’s appraisal was honest and accurate, “I am old . . and my wife is also.” Luke 1:18 NLT.

Then God startled Zachariah with news of the son for whom they had prayed; he was to be named John, a herald of the Messiah. At God’s time, your circumstances will not hinder Him from doing what He purposed to do – however long the years have been or whatever the circumstances of the moment. God is never late; you and I are often impatient.

God is neither cruel nor unfeeling, never unsympathetic or uncaring about your dreams and desires, but the calendar of eternity charts the purposes of God, not the random clocks of mortal plans. Your Father knows how and when to best fulfill your prayers, and precisely when and where His eternal plan intersects with His intentions and blessings. See Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. The trust issue is your acceptance, obedience, and faithfulness meanwhile.  

In the purpose and providence of God, the day would come; “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came to bear witness of the Light, that all through Jesus might believe . . and of His fullness we have all received.” Read John 1:6-9/16. God’s plan was more vast and inclusive than Zachariah and Elizabeth’s hopes and plans, “. . that all through Jesus might believe,” reaching even to you and me today, and all who will follow. God coordinated the birth of John exactly when he could be the herald of the Savior. They would be content with a child; God gave them a messenger of Messiah.

While they may have thought the answer to their prayers was late, Christmas time is always the best time. That is true in your life as well. Christmas came exactly when and as God intended, When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 NIV. God achieves His eternal purposes in the calendar and daily appointments of your life.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will expect God at any time while waiting for Him every time.

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When Life’s Unfair

August 9th, 2010

“It was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:8 NIV

God has the characters, calendar, and circumstances of your story under His control.”

My thoughts today are about times “when life’s unfair.”

Life does not always make sense at the moment. There may often be things occurring that you do not understand right then. A person may be unkind to you without reason; you might be blamed for something that you did not do; you watch an opportunity you wanted be given to someone else. Life will present you with occasions that challenge your trust, situations that test your confidence in the love and fairness of God. That’s when you must be fully convinced of the true character of God.

I remember my Dad telling me this about God: “God will not take anything good away from you, nor allow anyone else to do so, except that He will make room for something better.” I have found that true. Dad’s counsel has become my conviction. I will admit that it did not make the temporary loss or momentary pain easier at the time, but after regathering from my wounded pride or disappointment I have found Dad’s words to be true. I commend his words to you.

“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 it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask Him, and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” James 1:2-5 NLT. Try to figure it out on your own, and you will come up with all the wrong answers. Complain about the unfairness of it all, and see if anything changes. Or, you can put it all in God’s hands and see what He will do!

I have often heard a person in the pain and confusion of a difficult situation say, “That’s not fair!” And they were usually right; it wasn’t. But God is more than fair; God is righteous. Joseph did not deserve his brothers’ jealousy, even hatred, which sold him as a slave in a foreign land. That wasn’t fair. He did nothing to cause the lie that threw him into prison. That wasn’t fair. He did not deserve to be forgotten for two years by a man who swore he would never forget his life being spared. That wasn’t fair. But God had the circumstances and calendar under His control. Read Joseph’s story (Genesis 37-50), and in the narrative you will find a recurring phrase, “But the Lord was with Joseph . .” The question your heart has to answer is this, “Is that enough for you?” Read Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT.

Whatever has happened, however unexplainable the event or unfortunate and unfair the circumstance, God is not absent; He is with you. Where others abandon, God remains. When others betray, God is just. When others accuse, God defends. When others forsake, God is faithful. When others mislead; God is truth. See Romans 3:3-4 NLT.

Joseph’s conclusion? He saw God before, during, and after all that occurred. Let me use Joseph’s own words, “God sent me ahead of you . . so then, it was God and not you who sent me here, but God! . . you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of lives.” Genesis 45:7-8/50:20 NIV. Intended for good! Any given moment cannot write the full story of God’s care, plan, and provision for you.

My prayer for you today is that you trust in God’s character and timing in everything.

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Beginnings Are God’s Specialty

January 1st, 2010

A note about next week:

I will be away from the office next week and unable to resume the usual devotional until Monday, January 11. May I suggest you browse the EveryDay Life archive at www.allenrandolph.com. Again, I thank you for the privilege of another year of sharing with you some practical thoughts of God’s powerful Word for everyday life.

As I write on this New Year’s morning, Gayle and I pray for a truly Blessed New Year, prosperous for you and your family, and that your life be fruitful for the Kingdom of God. Let’s begin well and finish strong in the new year and new decade of 2010. Allen Randolph

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“This month shall be your beginning of months.” Exodus 12:2 NKJV

“I wish there were some wonderful place called the Land of Beginning Again.”

My thoughts today are that “beginnings are God’s specialty.”

“Happy New Year” is just not a worthy objective for welcoming a new year. That greeting, however traditional and well intended, suggests that your enjoyment of the year just begun is tied to what happens in the year, and that is something that none of us can actually control. In fact, you know that along with the favorable things that will come your way and the kindnesses that will be shown you by others, you will also face challenges you do not anticipate and difficulties you do not foresee.

Instead, I have chosen to desire for myself and others “a Blessed New Year,” an upcoming season of God’s presence and favor upon all that is done in His Name, whatever any momentary circumstance may be. See 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 NIV. I love the resounding assurance of the psalmist, “You visit the earth . . greatly enrich it . . provide their grain . .  water it . . settle its furrows . . You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your goodness and Your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:9-11 NKJV. Now that is a blessed new year every year! That is the expectation with which I want to live my life every day; and that is also my heart and prayer for you.

Many years ago I learned a portion of a poem that suits this change of calendar, “I wish there were some wonderful place, Called the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, And all of our selfish grief, Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, And never put on again.” (Louise Fletcher) That is the longing in every heart at each change of the calendar. Wherever in the world that crowds gathered last night with good cheer and optimism, they held one hope: that their life would be better this year – that they would do better; they would be better.

You can experience exactly that – forgiveness for every sin, healing from every hurt, release from every regret, hope in every situation, peace in every turmoil, assurance when uncertain, restoration of relationships, wisdom in every decision, alone but not lonely, and new beginnings every day! That place is at the foot of a cross where the Savior died for your sins long ago, and yet lives today to “crown the year with (His) goodness.” Read also Isaiah 53:4-6 NKJV.

New beginnings are God’s specialty. Who hasn’t needed them? He introduces us to Himself with the simple, yet profound words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. In preparation for delivering Israel from Egypt’s slavery, God reset their calendar to announce their new beginning, “This month shall be the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:2 NKJV. Almighty God forever changed Israel’s history, as He can change yours.

Let me be clear, a new beginning does not happen because of the change of a calendar or anything that happens outside of you; a new beginning can only happen for you when grace and spiritual change happens inside of you. Only God can do that! “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for their old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. God also specializes in finishing well what He begins. See Philippians 1:6 NLT/Hebrews 12:2 NLT/Revelation 22:13 NLT.

My prayer for you today is for a blessed year, crowned with God’s grace and goodness.

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