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Choose Joy

December 21st, 2017

Joy is both a gift and a choice. Choose joy.

“You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today urge you to,

“Choose Joy.”

“Merry Christmas!” Such is the all too familiar greeting, but “merry,” seems an underwhelming emotion when referring to the Eternal God coming into our world. “Joyous Christmas,” seems more appropriate to the Advent season. Open your heart and home to be overwhelmed this Advent season by a sublime joy that Peter described this way, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

Inexpressible and glorious joy is the proper response to the Savior. The experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and unequaled sacrifice deserve no less. As the angel announced to the shepherds that first Christmas, “I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS. The good news is the same now as then, as is the promise.

However, Heaven’s joy did not originate on that first Christmas. The Incarnation simply dramatized the eternal purpose of the Father for all His creation to know inexpressible, glorious joy. Creation is described as the time when, “the morning stars sang together and all the Angels shouted for joy.” Job 38:7 NIV. That same eternal joy will fill your heart as you stand before God, “Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy.” Read Jude 24-25 NKJV. Joyfully celebrating Christmas provides your opportunity to experience His inexpressible and glorious joy every day.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV. Great joy is yours but never automatic. Joy is a gift God gives; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy; mature joy until the emotion becomes a disposition abounding from spiritual resources. Jesus promised, “If you abide in Me . . My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV. You have His joy, completely.

Choose joy. Share the joy. If you are silent or unclear about your joy at Christmas, why would, or should, the world be drawn at other times to the truth you tell. Consider this. Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you share its joy with others. But a joy-filled message is not credible when coming from a joyless messenger. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you can’t keep something that you won’t share, and others will not believe something they do not see. When you give joy, you gain joy. That states a spiritual principle that also applies to inexpressible and glorious joy, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV.

Share the joy of Christmas every day, to every person, and in every imaginable way. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Invite, include, involve, converse, welcome, laugh, love, express life, and always be real. Celebrate joyously and without apology. Incarnate the joy of His incarnation, and the timeless message an unbelieving world cannot resist. The message of Christmas remains forever unchanged, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NKJV. Christmas offers every reason and opportunity to choose joy.

Today, I pray for you to discover the inexpressible, enduring joy found only in the Savior.

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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Joy is a Choice

December 23rd, 2016

I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS.

Joy is a choice you make and a gift God gives

Our five month old great granddaughter, Riley

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

“Merry Christmas” is an all too familiar greeting, but merry seems a bit underwhelming when describing the history-changing birth of Jesus. Merriment is a good thing that comes from enjoying good times with good friends. But Christmas is so much more. And God has more for you, much more. I believe, “Joyous Christmas,” would be more appropriate for God’s intent for this and every season of life.

This Advent, open your heart and home to be overwhelmed by an inexpressible and glorious joy. That’s how Peter described Jesus’ presence permeating your heart and daily life. “You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV. Your experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and sacrifice promises no less and deserves nothing less than great and glorious joy. Let your joy be unrestrained.

That first, auspicious Christmas night, the herald Angel’s announcement to the shepherds described the moment and promise, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today, there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” At such news, Heaven could be silent no longer; “Suddenly, there appeared a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” Luke 2:10-14 NAS. Indeed, the Incarnation was “good news of inexpressible and glorious joy.” However intended for you His joy may be, great joy requires your initiative.

Joy is a gift God chose to give; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy in your heart because it is not natural to our fallen nature. Choose joy again and again until joy becomes a settled disposition of your spirit, while you draw continually on ample, spiritual resources. Jesus said, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you . . that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV.

Inexpressible joy should not be left unexpressed. When you have His joy completely, you will express His joy consistently. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you won’t keep something you don’t share. When you give joy, you gain joy. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Let His joy be real in you until it is irresistible to others. Incarnate the joy of Christmas that an unbelieving world cannot resist. Great joy is unknown where the Good News is untold.

As our family entered this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we are grieving the death of a 21-year-old son and grandson, Parker. I empathize with others who feel the shadow of grief at this season. Grieving is unavoidable, even appropriate in such circumstances. A friend recently commented, “Sometimes tears are all we have.” Grieving is no reproof of joy. Grieving is the process by which healing comes. Grieving needs time and trust to accomplish its purpose. Allow yourself time, and choose joy this Christmas. Grief will give way to healing and the joy that results. Joy is not some sort of hilarity; joy is a settled confidence that God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He would do.

Hope, joy, and peace are God’s incomparable Christmas gifts for you. You can find joy amid grief, when you include trust and hope. “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.” Rom 15:13 NIV. Choose joy this Christmas.

Today, I pray that Jesus is the source of your joy and your celebration is without restraint.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Allen and Gayle Randolph    

Christian Communications 2016-121014 Christmas joy

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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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Christmas Gifts

December 23rd, 2014

“Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT.

Giving that is meaningful is inseparably sourced in love that is authentic.

My thoughts and comments this Advent are about “Christmas gifts.”

Christmas gift giving is an art form with some people. Christmas is easier for people like my wife, Gayle; as Christmas approaches, she has already planned for family and friends and thought of the gifts most wanted and needed by them. Such people anticipate what best serves or delights the recipient. I admire people with such a talent. I don’t struggle with the act of giving; I find joy in that. Read 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NIV. I struggle to know what to give, unsure if my choice of gifts will be enjoyed, or appropriate, or best meet their need, or serve them well. My dilemma is finding a gift that expresses my love and appreciation adequately and accurately.

Christmas is such a special time of year. I love everything about celebrating Christmas – the wondrous Christmas story, times together with family and friends, the tree and decorations, the Nativity scenes, flickering candles and logs in the fireplace, Holly and wreaths, eggnog and sweets, Christmas choirs and carols, mistletoe, and, of course, beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. But none of those would mean anything apart from God’s greatest gift to you and me. Among all of God’s generous and gracious gifts, God’s greatest gift was given at Christmas.

Nativity reduced (2) Paul found the generosity and grace of God’s gift to be inexpressible, “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT. Christmas’ greatest Gift could not be described more beautifully or accurately. For some who decry the commercialization of Christmas, Christmas is only commercialized by those who overlook Christmas truth. Read James 1:17-18 NIV.

Christmas need not be separated from gift giving. The Wise men, “rejoiced with great joy . . and fell down and worshiped Him, opening their treasures they presented gifts to Him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11. Their gifts were costly but not extravagant, unusual but not inappropriate. Their love and joy would not let them do less. Those gifts expressed their hearts’ response to the far greater Gift – the promised and long awaited Messiah, who was the Son of God and would become the Savior of men. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV. Gift giving is appropriate to your celebration of Christmas.

As a boy, I heard my Dad often say, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Across the years, I find that true. Christmas is the testimony to that truth. Giving that is meaningful is inseparably sourced in love that is authentic. Love always prompts a generous response. The Good News that angels proclaimed to shepherds describes the perfect gift of which John later wrote, “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.” Read John 3:16-21 NIV.

The better you know the person to whom a gift is given, the more your gift will meet their need and bring them joy. God’s Christmas Gift responds exactly to His accurate estimate and adequate supply of your greatest needs. “The gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV. And His gift empowers, as well as obligates, each recipient of eternal life that, “we should use whatever gift [we] have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV.

My prayer for you this Advent is that you receive graciously from God and give generously to others.

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