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Posts Tagged ‘Heavenly Father’

God Loves People

November 18th, 2016

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” 1 John 3:1

Like a window, a good story lets light shine into darkness.

My thoughts and comments today are that “God loves people.”

God loves people, all people. As a Mom loves her ailing child who needs comfort and healing, God especially loves lost people. Here is how much God loves lost people. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV. His love is all sourced in grace, unmerited favor, with no qualifying effort or goodness of your own. “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were [by works], grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6 NIV. Read Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV.

The Apostle Paul was absolutely secure in his knowledge of the limitless extent of God’s love, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV. Nothing but your own decision can separate you from the love of God. Such a decision would be tragic.

The Bible’s theme is about redemption, the joyful recovery of what was lost. Everyone likes a good story and Jesus was the best story teller of all. Like a window, a story lets light shine into darkness. Jesus told common, everyday stories to illustrate grand, eternal truths. Usually, His stories began or ended with the words, “In the same way, the Kingdom of Heaven is like . .”  The intent of Jesus’ stories was to illustrate His Kingdom.

One of Jesus’ stories, and probably the most familiar and beloved, is all about lost things. Jesus told about a lost sheep, a lost coin, two lost sons, and a grieving father. Read Luke 15:3-31 NIV. The sheep simply wandered away from the shepherd and became lost by no intent of its own. Yet was found because a shepherd cared enough to search for one lost sheep. And then, there was rejoicing that what was lost had been found. A coin was lost because it was unintentionally misplaced and forgotten, until its owner was unwilling for the coin to remain lost, searching relentlessly until she found it again. And again, there was rejoicing when what was lost was found.

A younger son was lost because he wanted to live independently and apart from his father. He sought what he thought would be freedom but found it was poverty and shame, but there was a father who watched daily and waited for a lost son whose return released the father’s lavish love and restoration. And again, there was rejoicing when what was lost was found. Then Jesus’ story ended with the account of an older son for whom there was no rejoicing. The other son never left home, but his anger with his brother had estranged his heart from his father. Despite that son’s angry refusal, his father, “went out and pleaded with him,” to join the celebration for his brother. The father’s celebration was incomplete without him. It can seem easier for a prodigal to traverse the geographical distance caused by his shame than for an angry son to navigate the relational distance from his father. Tragically, he failed to believe or receive his father’s words, “My son, you are ever with me and all that I have is yours.”

Jesus story was about far more than a shepherd seeking a lost sheep, or a woman searching for a lost coin, or a father longing for his lost sons. Jesus’ story is about your Heavenly Father who gave His one and only Son for you, me, and others to be saved. Jesus’ summation was simple and consistent for the sheep, the coin, and the prodigal son, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

“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. When words failed John to explain God’s lavish love, he used a very small adverb, “so,” which well described the indescribable – the dimensions of how much God loves a lost world. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 NIV. That is what we are – children of God.

Today, I pray for you to allow no distance between your heart and your Father.

A SPECIAL NOTE – In the title below, I have included a Link to a recent video teaching, “The Difference Between Lost and Found.” My thoughts expand today’s topic as I recently shared at the Cathedral of Faith, San Jose, CA. The Father’s love is the  difference between lost and found. As an extra treat, my friend and singer, Lillie Knauls, shares a classic hymn, Amazing Grace, as introduction to my teaching. Enjoy . .

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Christian Communications 2016

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Unashamed

January 13th, 2016

“Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Hebrews 11:16 NIV.

Live so your family and friends have no cause for embarrassment.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unashamed.”

As a teen, I recall occasions when my father wisely reminded me, “Allen, remember; you are a Randolph.” His words were not of distrust, but of his trust and expectation of me. From his words, I understood that my conduct and conversation should reflect positively or would reflect negatively on others as well as myself.

Shame is a negative, but healthy, emotion you feel when you behave in a less worthy manner than you or others should expect. I am ashamed of some things I have said and done across the course of my life, and thankful to God and others who have shown me love and grace in spite of that. Along the way, I hope I have learned to do better. Though admittedly as human as the next person, my aspiration is to live so my family and friends have no cause for embarrassment.

Though not an exhaustive list, the twelfth chapter of Hebrews describes multiple people of exemplary faith in these words, “They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Read Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV. To me, that is the most incredible description of grace and the confident power of God.Grace includes you in that noble company of saints. Read Ephesians 2: 4-10 NIV.

I know that  my name is linked to His in grace. Imagine the power of that and personalize the Bible’s affirmation; read it aloud right now; “God is not ashamed to be called my God.” It is neither pretentious nor presumptuous to affirm that as true. Let its transforming truth sink deeply into your heart and spirit.

Dare you and I believe, that in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can live in a manner that God is not ashamed to be called our God. How dare we not believe what God has said to be true? Paul had every expectation of that truth, “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV. “Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Read Hebrews 2:10-12 NIV.

It reassures and comforts me that God chose to identify Himself to Moses affirming, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Exodus 3:15 NKJV. The record of each was less than sterling. But God was not ashamed to be called their God. At the end of my life, it will be satisfaction enough to hear my Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I want to live in the strength of my Dad’s belief in me and my Heavenly Father’s grace toward me. Read 2 Timothy 1:12-14 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to live as honors Jesus, with neither shame nor regret.

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Daily Bread

May 29th, 2012

“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Luke 11:3 NKJV

On your horizon will be challenges beyond your experience.

My thoughts and comments today are about “daily bread.”

Life comes to you one day at a time; your necessary provision for life comes from your Father one day at a time as well. I think most people recognize their lack in some measure. Working harder, thinking longer, or getting richer won’t solve every problem. Everyone needs help sometimes.

Our great-granddaughter, Kaylee, is now one month old. She is helpless, fully dependent on the grace, love, and assistance of those who love her, for any and everything she needs for her health and growth. She will grow, and learn to do those basic things for herself, but she will always need some help from God and others – just as you and I do.

You were not born self-sufficient; you will not become self-sufficient entirely. You will have needs beyond your ability to satisfy. On your horizon will be challenges beyond your experience. You won’t know everything you will need to understand; you won’t have all the perseverance life will require; you will face situations and people for which you lack wisdom.

Life will confront you with things unexpected, things for which you are unprepared – injustice, false accusation, financial disaster, medical emergency, health crises, terribly accidents, social abandonment, emotional trauma, and too many other unwarranted tragedies to list. It is foolish to think that you can be equal to everything that could occur in a lifetime. Life doesn’t afford you ample storage of reserve and resource for whatever may come your way in a lifetime. You meet life in smaller, daily doses.

Finally, the good news. There is nothing that touches your life that is bigger than God. You will not face anything without God, unless you choose to. You won’t have to confront all of those frightening things at the same time. You will experience very few of those in your lifetime, but you will not be exempt from all things that frighten and hurt. That’s why you will want help.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray; He gave them a model prayer. Read Luke 11:1-4 NKJV. This prayer provides a grand view of the intimacy of your relationship with God and the dimensions of God’s faithfulness to you. The prayer Jesus taught them teaches how life works, beginning with “our Father!”

Everything you need begins there – in His heart, from His hand, out of His love. You can have a unique, personal relationship with God who is your Father. In every circumstance, God’s will for your life can be preeminent, “on earth as it is in Heaven,” that grace flows when we “forgive everyone who is indebted to us,” and your cry, “deliver us,” leaves every evil intent impotent of harm.

I purposefully left this simple statement for last; “Give us day by day our daily bread.” Bread symbolizes basic needs that are common to us and necessary daily. As I stated above, you meet life in smaller, daily doses. Sufficient help is available every day from the one unfailing Source; you only need to come to your Heavenly Father and ask , “Give us day by day our daily bread.”

As surely as God fed Israel each day in the wilderness with manna He gave and they gathered, He will give you your “daily bread.” “Some gathered much, some little . . he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. No one is to keep any of it till morning.” See Numbers 11:7-8/Exodus 16:16-19 NIV. God’s provision was day by day only.

My prayer for you today is that you live confidently in the ample supply of God’s love.

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True Worship

March 18th, 2011

“People the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” John 4:23 NAS

“Worship is the recognition of God’s proper place and your fitting response of devotion.”

My thoughts today are about “true worship.”

Worship happens instinctively. You were created to worship the One who created you. When you do that it feels natural because worship is in your DNA, an undeniable and unchangeable part of who you are. When you do not worship God, you will find a substitute – someone or something, maybe yourself. You will worship; the question is only who or what you will worship.

People become puzzled about worship, when worship is confused with a place rather than a purpose. If you were not raised “in church,” and sometimes even when you were, you can be unclear about worship. Let’s get back to basics; God’s opinion and instruction matters most.

Jesus met a woman at Jacob’s well outside the city of Samaria. Read John 4:4-26 NKJV. It was the middle of the day, an odd time for this unusual woman to come to draw water. Jesus began a life-changing conversation with her about thirst, natural and spiritual. It was quickly obvious that she was confused about a lot of things – life, relationships, and worship.

When the conversation turned in the direction of spiritual life, she was concerned about the proper place for worship – the Samaritans in Samaria, or the Jews in Jerusalem? Does it really matter where? Not to God, but it seems to be an issue with many people.

Most times we are also confused, because we are conflicted about how to worship. Where a person worships reflects what they think worship should “look and feel like,” and that usually translates into their preferred style of music and familiar manner of expression – contemporary or traditional, fast or slow, rock or religious, exuberant or contemplative, etc. Those things are not about God or worship because worship isn’t merely about style or music. Those are about you, your experience, familiarity, and preferences mostly.

Know this: worship is not about you; it’s all about God! God’s priority is about who and why you worship, not how you do that or where you do so; true worship is your recognition of God’s proper place in your life and your fitting response of devotion to Him.

With personal knowledge and good authority, Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know . . true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:22-24 NAS. You are someone for whom the father seeks; your worship is His joy.

The most basic reality about worship is your personal and growing relationship with God, “the Father.” How can you worship “the Father” you do not know, and how will you know “the Father” you do not worship? Your worship can only deepen and grow as your knowledge and relationship with God matures and grows. Worship is way beyond music; music is merely an expression of the soul worshiping.

True worship pours out of a sacred life, lived beyond a church’s walls. “Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering.” Romans 12:1-2 The Message. Now, that’s what worship looks and sounds like!

My prayer for you today is that you know God personally and worship Him truly.

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Wasted Worry

June 7th, 2010

“Look at the birds . . your Heavenly Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26 NIV

Worry never gives you what you lack; it only gives you more of what you don’t need.”

My thoughts today are about “wasted worry.”

People are worriers. Some people worry that they won’t have enough, worry when they don’t have enough, and even when people do have enough, they still worry about how long they will have enough. Some have done it so long that they do it so very well. As I said, people are worriers, and you and I are among them. Shouldn’t we have learned by now that worry does not change reality even a little bit; worry is a grand waste of your time and energy. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27 NIV.

Someone described it this way, “Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Worry does not ever give you what you lack; it only gives you more of what you don’t really need – distraction, darkened countenance, elevated blood pressure, and the like. Solomon discovered this, “Worry weighs a man down.” Proverbs 12:25 NLT.

Jesus said that worry is a sign of lacking faith in God’s care and provision. Worrying is the reaction to an unwanted predicament that leaves you wondering if God is uncaring, or unwilling, or unable. Jesus’ strong advice is, “Do not worry about your life . . or about your body.” Matthew 6:25 NIV. He knows you pretty well, doesn’t he?

Consider Jesus’ practical examples: God’s care and provision for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. The birds do “not plant or harvest, or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them . . see how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin (fabric), yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Matthew 6:26/28-29 NIV.

Consider Jesus’ personal conclusion: God cares more about you and your needs than all else that He made. “So do not worry . . your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.” Matthew 6:31-34 NIV.

So how do you accomplish this? How do you stop worrying? “Give all your worries and care to God, for He cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT. The Bible teaches, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than (you) can understand. His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you know what to do with worry when it first appears.

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