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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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Healing Laughter

May 18th, 2016

Dear Readers of EDL: I will be taking a few days of leisure with my wife and some dear friends, away from my office and writing responsibilities. In these next days, visit the Archives of previous devotionals at the Wedbiste, if you need a bit of God’s Word to brighten your day and lighten your heart. I so appreciate your partnership in EveryDay Life. I’ll meet you here again next week. Blessings In His Name.

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“A merry heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV.

Laughter is a gift you give yourself and others.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “healing laughter.”

When humor is good-natured and without sarcasm or portraying others disparagingly, it can provide a mental and emotional mini-vacation that lightens and lifts a heavy heart. “Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.” (Solitude, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850-1919, American author and poet). People don’t laugh enough and they, as well as their family and friends, are the worse for the lack thereof. A common saying is: “Laughter is the best medicine.” Solomon was the wisest of men, and he wrote that “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.” Proverbs 17:22 TEV. Lighten up; brighten yours and others’ lives. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13 NKJV. Laughter is healing to the soul. Humor freshens attitudes, refreshes emotions, relieves worry, and releases tension. Solomon was the wisest of men, and he wrote that “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.” Proverbs 17:22 TEV.

As I was growing up, our home was a happy place. Our family laughed freely and frequently. My Dad had a big smile and a ready laugh. When friends were in our home, I remember that there was lots of laughter and funny stories. Solomon wrote, “For the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15 NLT. A favorite childhood memory of mine is sitting by my Dad watching comedians on television, laughing together at the antics of Red Skelton, Milton Berle, or George Burns and Gracie Allen. Admittedly, that was before comedians considered profanity and vulgarity to be funny.

My Mom was always my most appreciative audience. I enjoyed making her laugh. None too seriously, my Dad would occasionally say, “Don’t laugh at the boy, Mildred; you’ll just encourage him!” Apparently, she ignored his pretended discouragement. I still love a well-placed humorous ad-lib, probably more than continues to be funny sometimes. I love laughter that is joyous and spontaneous. Does that happen to you often enough?

Laughter is a gift you give yourself and others. Do your friends and family a favor; make them laugh. My Dad also said, “Everyone brings joy, some when they come and others when they go.” Be the first of those; bring joy whenever and wherever you come. People don’t laugh enough, especially at themselves. Don’t take yourself and everyone else so seriously. When things are as serious and sobering as our world seems to be presently, a few more people with a healthy sense of humor does not seem to me a bad thing, especially ones able to laugh at themselves.

Jesus must have had a terrific sense of humor, judging by the stories He told. Imagine a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24 NIV), or a judgmental person trying to get a speck out a friend’s eye with a sizable log in their own (Matthew 7:1-5 NLT). Read the Gospels. People loved being with Jesus; children and crowds sought His company. I think everybody was happier being with Jesus, except those who thought themselves too religious or self-important. I envision Jesus with the broadest of smiles, most uninhibited laugh, and the most joyous of hearts – all the while loving life and living abundantly. His desire for you is simple and clear, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and your joy may be full.” John 15:11 NKJV. The world – and the Church – needs a lot more of His joy.

Today, I pray for you to have and enjoy the company of friends who find humor healing.

Christian Communications 2016-11810 laugh; it’s good for you

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A Godly Legacy

March 6th, 2015

“I urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 NIV.

Christianity is one generation from extinction.

Family wedding portrait cropped

My thoughts and comments today are about “a Godly legacy.”

Some people incorrectly think faith should be a private matter, not something to be discussed with others. Parents have explained to me that they were, “uncomfortable to impose any particular expression of faith on their children,” leaving spiritual life for them to decide when older. When you understand the eternal consequence of personal faith or the lack thereof, that seems neither wise nor loving.

A parent would not leave children to decide for themselves the value of good health, or personal hygiene, or nutrition, or the necessity of education, or matters of character such as honesty, modesty, and respect for authority. There are things left as personal to each individual, but everything that is personal is not required to be private. Faith is certainly one of those. Faith is personal but not an altogether private matter.

You are surrounded by an increasingly secular culture. Any public expression of faith seems to be assumed an intolerance of others and considered intrusive if not kept private. Yet there seems to be no alarm at such faulty reasoning, even an apparent resignation to such practice. Jude, an apostle, admonished believers, “About the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 NIV. You have an invaluable trust to keep.

Christianity is one generation from extinction. “As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the Lord, and even after his death they continued to do so as long as the leaders were alive who had seen for themselves all the great things that the Lord had done for Israel . . That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the Lord and what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:7/10 TEV. The greatest sadness a Godly parent could ever feel is for their children to discount or later discard their parents’ Christian convictions and values. You afford your family a Godly example or provide them a perilous exemption.

Even after their deaths, my parents and grandparents still shape my personal faith. Church and home were one and the same in our family. My faith was taught and nurtured in my Dad’s sermons at church and by my Mom’s hymns at home and, just as importantly, by their personal examples. I remember my Dad describing my grandmother’s miraculous healing from a terminal illness that resulted in his conversion as a teenager, and his dramatic healing from rheumatic fever when I was just a toddler, and of the Lord’s faithful provision at times when there was no food for our table. He refused to let my sister and I forget our spiritual heritage, a history concerning the Lord’s grace and presence in our family.

Your faith is not yours alone; faith is a Godly legacy you are responsible to establish in your family, and share within your circle of influence. Your faith must be sacredly held, sincerely lived, and successfully shared with the next generations. Make your practice and profession of faith honest, and especially consistent. Faith is no private matter; share it with others sensitively and confidently.

You may not have received a Godly heritage. A Godly legacy can begin today with you.We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of His power and the mighty miracles He did . . He commanded our fathers to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – so each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:4-7 NLT. That is the mandate of personal faith; each generation will set their hope on God and nurture that hope in the next. Make faith, and your living and sharing it faithfully, a priority in your home and everyday life.

Today, my prayer for you is to value your Godly heritage and the spiritual legacy you must leave others.

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The Miracle and Mystery of Healing

January 29th, 2014

“Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 NLT.

The essential elements of healing are the grace and sovereignty of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the miracle and mystery of healing.”

Few things present more unanswered questions and opinions than healing through prayer and faith. It would be easy to struggle with the questions: if healing occurs, how healing occurs, and why healing occurs, or more commonly, why it doesn’t. The reality is that many of us have more questions than answers in this very real area of spiritual life. Wisdom is not letting answers you don’t have dissuade you from the answer God gives. The Savior that has the power to forgive sins also holds the power to heal. Read Mark 2:1-12 NIV/Isaiah 53:4-6 NKJV.

God’s Word is clear, “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:14-15 NLT.

Is that true? Of course it is. God’s Word says it is, providing many examples of healings in both the Old and New Testament, and through the ministry of Jesus, as well as others. Anyone willing to look honestly into God’s Word will find the promise of healing as well as its successful practice. Across history, and yet today, there are many such testimonies. Whatever else you question, you are not left to wonder if healing is promised in God’s Word. Don’t wait until you understand all of God’s mysteries; simply be available to God’s miraculous power and divine possibilities.

When my Dad was a teenager, my grandmother was diagnosed as, “terminal.” At the invitation of a neighbor, she and my Dad visited a small church in Buffalo, New York, where she was prayed for. Never having been in a church until he was seventeen, he accompanied his mother who was prayed for and miraculously healed that Sunday night, living several decades longer. The Randolph family came to faith through her miraculous healing, her story reaching across generations to our family today, and our children, our grandchildren, and hopefully to their children as well.

Years later as a pastor, married, and with a two-year-old son (that was me), my Dad was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever, severely affecting his heart and leaving him debilitated for six months, requiring constant help for the simplest activities of every day care. Like his mother years earlier, he was prayed for and miraculously healed. Those stories and others wondrously filled my childhood. Some may try to reduce James’ words to a formula to force God to work at their will. Others wrongly assume that unless everyone is healed, then no one actually could be.

Healing is both a mystery and miracle. I confess I do not know how healing happens, nor why healing does not always occur for the most desperately needy or apparently most deserving. But unanswered questions must not dismiss the answer given in God’s Word. The Bible is true; “Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 NLT.

Of this be certain, healing is the Lord’s doing. Prayer and faith – your own or another’s – are significant components to the possibility of healing, but the absolutely essential elements of healing are the grace and sovereignty of God. You can neither make healing apply as you wish, nor should you dismiss healing as a wondrous possibility for your life.

My prayer for you today is: believe in and expect the power of God every day.

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God Makes Life Make Sense

September 11th, 2013

“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25 NIV.

The hurt you feel is not apart from the hope you have and healing you need.

My thoughts and comments today are that “God makes life make sense”

Life isn’t fair; serious disappointment waits for those who expect it to be. Today, September 11, is a stained date on America’s calendar when our stunned nation puzzled how crazed jihadists would rob hearts and homes of more than three thousand lives, guilty of nothing more than going to work that morning. Everything in our national grief cried, “Unfair!”

Unfair; everyone feels that way sometimes. Jesus told a parable about workers in a vineyard who agreed to a proper day’s wage for a full day’s work. Read Matthew 20:1-16 NLT. As the day progressed, other workers were needed and hired. But at the end of the day, the owner of the vineyard said, “I wanted to pay this last man the same as you . . should you be angry because I am kind?” Matthew 20:14 NKJV. “Unfair,” seemed a legitimate complaint! Read Vs. 8-12. See Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT. With which worker did you first identify – the ones who got what they agreed to receive or the ones who received a grace they could not earn? We have more likely and more frequently been the latter. See 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV.

Probably one of the important questions of everyday life is: do you trust God to be fair? When he interceded for God to spare Sodom, Abraham affirmed his trust by a rhetorical question whose answer assumed to be obvious, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25 NIV. Of course, God will! He is righteous and cannot do less. And He will always do right by you.

“Unfair!” That’s a familiar exclamation or emotion anyone might say or feel.From a child’s earliest years there seems to be an innate sense of fairness, not so much in evidence when you are the one getting the best deal but certainly when someone else is and you are not. People never seem to outgrow the need to be first, have the most, the best, or the biggest; do we? When you don’t and someone else does – that you think deserves it less than you – your feelings scream, “Unfair!”

In their pain and tears, I have heard many good people say, “Life isn’t fair.” And they had every right to feel that way. The hurt you feel is not apart from the hope you have and the healing you need. A good person struggles with hardships, while a lesser person lives carefree. A hard working person seems not to get a break; another stumbles into unbelievably good fortuneLife isn’t fair. But God is just – every time, all the time. See 2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV.

The Psalmist anguished over the incongruity that the wicked prospered yet the righteous suffered. The inequities bewildered him; “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold . . when I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Read Psalm 73:1-28 NIV. There is a sanctuary for you where God makes life make sense. One day, the scales of justice are balanced, the wrongs made right, the innocent vindicated, the guilty punished.

My prayer for you today is that you trust in the goodness of a righteous God.

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