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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Clarity and Certainty

March 31st, 2018

The resurrection shouts truth with certainty.

 “That you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:4 NIV.       

My thoughts and comments today are about, clarity and certainty.”

You probably try not to think much about death, until something happens that does not allow that luxury. It seems more pleasant to ignore that undesired eventuality as much and as long as you can. But you are mortal; no matter how you suppress your feelings or disguise that fact. No one lives forever. And death is that unavoidable reality; you just don’t know how or when.

Until Jesus returns, the Psalmist’s words endure, “No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave.” Psalm 89:48 NIV. Now that sounds grim, doesn’t it? Death is grim and unpleasant because it is unnatural to us. But there is good news. “That by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-16 NIV. You were created to be eternal, in the image and likeness of your Creator. Sin introduced death, not God. Romans 5:12-19 NIV. The dread of death causes despair. That was true at man’s origin, and it is true now.

Days earlier, harsh realities replaced dreams and hopes the Christ-followers held, challenging everything they believed about faith and the future. Despair shoved hope aside. They stumbled, ”back home,” back to life as it had been; to pick up what little seemed left – broken, bewildered, and discouraged. Things they thought possible before, seemed impossible now. Things sure to them days before, now posed troubling questions. You will face times when life is hard and you feel like turning around. You might ask yourself, “What’s the use?” Something will seem to have erased your future, but your future is safe and secure in God’s hands.

Then came Easter morning! “All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by His boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NLT. Christ’s resurrection validates His power over death, proving that Jesus is the Lord of life, the conqueror of death. “God raised [Jesus] from the dead . . because it was not possible for death to keep its hold on Him.” Acts 2:24 NIV. Resurrection is the demonstration of God’s power, conquering your worst and last enemy; in comparison, everything else you will ever face is minor for God to do.

The amazing thing about Jesus is that His life began and ended with an impossibility. Earlier today, my friend, Amos, described the unique miracle of the Incarnation and Resurrection this way, “Jesus came into a world marked, ‘no entrance,’ through a virgin’s womb, and left our world through a door marked, ‘no exit,’ out from a borrowed tomb.”

How could we not celebrate such a supernatural and sacrificial life? Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27. Luke thought it important to establish for others what he knew to be true, “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:3-4 NIV.

Easter is far more than a date on the Spring calendar, even more than a fact of history. Easter remains forever a current event, more relevant to your well-being than anything in today’s headlines. Easter makes sense of everything that has not made any sense at all. The empty Garden tomb made sense of the agony of Gethsemane and the cruelty of Calvary. The Resurrection introduced possibilities beyond anything His followers had previously imagined when standing in the darkening shadow of the cross. Jesus’ birth, death, burial, and resurrection made impossibilities become possible.

Jesus’ Resurrection shouts truth with clarity and certainty over every question, doubt, and fear. And Easter offers the same for you today. Jesus’ Resurrection guarantees yours. Death will not be the last word. Life is the final word spoken over you, life now and life everlasting. “Then the end will come, when He hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all his enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:24-27 NIV. Meanwhile, God gives you the opportunity to live with wonderful expectation.

Today I pray for you to live with certainty and expectancy that nothing is impossible with God.

Christian Communications 2018

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Patience and Perseverance

July 14th, 2017

 Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, Patience and Perseverance.”

Worthy goals and great dreams come true when you determine to do more than endure; choose to thrive! Good things come to those who continue steadfast and faithful. Success comes to those who prevail over obstacles and challenges. When things get tougher than planned and they will, or take longer than hoped and they do, or cost more effort and sacrifice than anticipated and it does, plenty of reasons to give up and quit will be found. Many people won’t persevere, and then they wonder why life doesn’t work as they hoped.

Though the words are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a practical distinction between patience and perseverance. Patience deals with delays. Perseverance deals with problems. Few enjoy waiting through unwanted delays and unexpected difficulties. I have heard it said, “Good comes to those who wait.” I would add this qualifier – if you stay busy, hopeful, and faithful meanwhile. Consider God’s testimony of faithful Job in his travail and triumph. “Even in all this suffering, Job said nothing against God.” Job 2:10 TEV. Patience has to be exercised in the middle of a mess. No whining. No blame. No regret.

It is always too soon to quit. Being patient is difficult enough, but perseverance introduces the added elements of trials and trouble. From experience, Paul wrote, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us. They help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” Read Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Both patience and perseverance require the added discomfort of enduring some troubling circumstance during an inconvenient time. In such times, don’t lose sight of your goal, nor lose faith in your God.

The Bible tells inspiring stories of people who exemplify today’s verse. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NIV. Abraham persevered, waiting for God’s promise of a son. See Romans 4:18-25 NIV. Daniel persevered righteously while captive in Godless Babylon. See Daniel 6:25-28 NIV. Paul persevered for years while imprisoned for his faith. See 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV. Paul’s example underscored his counsel, “Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12 NIV. Perseverance promises blessings but includes trials and trouble. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV.

Jesus sacred life and ultimate sacrifice is our supreme example. “Never quit . . keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 NLT.

If Jesus could, and would, persevere for you, won’t you do that for Him? His promise is that you will be blessed, when you patiently persevere. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person receives the prize. You must also run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to value eternal blessings above earthly difficulties.

Christian Communications 2017-0937

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Assumptions and Conclusions

March 25th, 2016

Good Friday. Gayle and I pray for you to have a glorious Easter celebration of our Savior’s Resurrection. Below today’s Devotional comments, I have shared a link to view a charming video of children telling the Easter story in the simplicity and wonder that only children possess. Click on “The Tomb Is Still Empty” to watch the brief video . . Blessings!

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“They took Jesus down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29 NASB.

Never allow your assumptions to become conclusions.

My thoughts and comments about “assumptions and conclusions.”

You make assumptions every day; people and circumstances are seldom as you anticipate. You make assumptions about others and they make assumptions about you. As often as not, those are not particularly accurate. I am sure there are too many times when people assumed better of me than I achieved. Hopefully, there have been other occasions when I accomplished better than others’ presumed I could or would. There are two things I have learned. Never allow your assumptions to become conclusions. And always leave room to be pleasantly surprised.

Jesus often surprises people. As a twelve-year-old, Jesus’ parents, “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Luke 2:46-47 NKJV. Who could have expected a preteen to be as comprehending and conversant as those learned men who were his seniors? Jesus continued to be misjudged and misunderstood. In Jesus’ home town of Nazareth, those who knew Him were astounded. “What is this wisdom that is given to Him, that He even does miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son?” Mark 6:3 NIV. Jesus always confounded others’ assumptions about Him, and continues to do so today.

This seems most relevant to me as my thoughts turn to this Easter weekend, and as we consider the horrendous betrayal, and cruel, unjust suffering of Jesus, and observe His sacrificial death on the cross as though a common criminal. But Friday was not the end of His story; Calvary was just the beginning. “When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Jesus down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29 NASB. His disciples saw His cruel and public death, watched his lifeless body buried and the tomb sealed and guarded. They assumed what seemed obvious was unchangeable.

On the cross, when Jesus declared, “It is finished,” what God had intended and prophets had foretold had only just begun. Some disciples headed home. Others returned to former pursuits. Confused and afraid, some felt too lost to do much of anything yet. His disciples and followers assumed Jesus’ death was final. Death always had been.

“But God raised Jesus from the dead!” Read Acts 13:30-31 NASB. An empty tomb was a surprise to everyone. In an unprecedented, miraculous occurrence nothing was ever the same again. God changes assumptions. Assumptions need not be conclusions. Easter changed the disciples’ assumptions forever. Jesus’ resurrection became the prevailing theme of the Apostles’ teaching and remains the Church’s signal testimony throughout the centuries that followed. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33 NKJV. And still there’s more: “If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then He who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of His Spirit in you.” Romans 8:11 TEV.

Easter is God’s promise that nothing is impossible, no circumstance hopeless, no distress unchangeable. My lifelong prayer and pursuit has been, ”I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” Read Philippians 3:10-11 AMP. Jesus’ resurrection pledges abounding life now and eternal life forever.

Today, I pray for you to experience the supernatural power of God in every circumstance.

Blessings, Allen Randolph

Christian Communications 2016

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Empty-tomb-and-verse 

“The Tomb Is Still Empty”

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Lost Things

March 2nd, 2016

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV.

A lost soul is the worst and unrecoverable loss of all.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “lost things.”

Everyone misplaces something at some time. Eventually, you may even be unsure where or when it was lost. And if too much time passes before realizing your loss, that item is more likely to remain lost. Upon realizing you have lost something, you determine if the value of the absent item is worth the time and effort of replacing it or looking for it. Sometimes it is more than an item that was lost. Marriages and families are lost by distraction and inattention. Friendships are lost by neglect or busyness. Opportunities are forfeited by procrastination or aversion to risk and failure. At such times, inaction is costly.

Jesus was a great story-teller. The Gospels are replete with stories about ordinary and extraordinary people. His stories were practical and helpful, revealing truth and providing instruction to the wise. Among the best, most familiar, and beloved of those, Jesus told multiple stories about a single theme – lost things. Read Luke 15:1-31 NKJV. The theme is appropriate to the Savior who understood His calling and commission, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV. See John 3:17 NKJV. As is true with lost things, people can’t find themselves; they have to be found.

In Luke’s account of Jesus’ stories, a wandering sheep was lost, a valuable coin was lost, a prodigal son was lost, a valuable opportunity was lost, and importantly, irreplaceable years were lost. In all but one instance, Jesus’ stories conclude with festive celebration and rejoicing.

In the first example of the lost sheep, neither the neglect of the shepherd nor the intention of the sheep is at fault. That one sheep simply wandered, not knowing it was lost nor finding its way home. Endangered and defenseless, the sheep was dependent on the shepherd, who spared no time or effort in finding and returning the straying sheep to the safety of the fold and the company of the flock. Vs. 4-7.

In Jesus’ next story, a single coin of minimal value was misplaced. Though nine other coins remained, extensive effort was made to find an otherwise insignificant coin, yet valued by its owner. She made every effort, searching relentlessly until it was found. Vs. 8-10.

In the final story, something more valuable than sheep or coins was lost; a valuable inheritance was squandered by a young son. In that process, a cherished son was lost whose heart drew him far away from his home and family where he misused and lost all that he had been given. Vs. 11-16. Jesus’ question is haunting, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 NKJV. A lost soul is the greatest, unrecoverable loss of all.

Fortunately, the story does not end there. When the Prodigal came to his senses, he went home to his father. I love Jesus’ words, “While he was still a long way off . . his father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Vs. 20. I love the image of the Father running to meet and envelop the returning prodigal with loving, joyful embrace. His reception even exceeded the regret of the penitent son. I am reminded of Poet Robert Frost’s perceptive description of home. “Home is the place where when you go there they have to let you in.”  Ultimately, Jesus’ story is about coming home in humility and repentance where you will find forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and rejoicing. Vs. 17-24. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NIV.

But not to be overlooked, Jesus’ story is also about the immense loss a father suffered by the failure of both of his sons to understand and value their father’s immeasurable love and generosity. “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31 NIV. Our Heavenly Father’s heart remains unchanged, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to know the enduring love and faithful care of the Good Shepherd.

Christian Communications 2016
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EDL Welcoming Prodigal

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What’s in a Name?

December 30th, 2015

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NKJV.

Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “what’s in a name?”

A secure sense of identity is important. Names have significance. My first name distinguishes me from others in my family. My middle name honors my Dad. My last name identifies me with generations that preceded me and will follow me. Your name identifies you, connects you to your history, and differentiates you from others. I have friends who have legally changed their names to honor their cultural heritage or to better reflect their new life in Christ. In Scripture, God considers names important. When God chose to send His Son into our world, His name was not left to whim or chance, but deliberately chosen by God.

To Nazareth, an angel was sent to the young virgin, Mary, as well as Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus . . for He shall save His people from their sins.” Read Luke 1:26-35/Matthew 1:20-21 NKJV. Jesus’ name, “Jehovah Saves,” perfectly describes His purpose on earth. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” Acts 10:43 NIV. All who call upon the name of Jesus find forgiveness and release from the power of their sins. Jesus came with singular purpose: to do the will of His Father, to reveal the heart of God, to declare the power of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to bring redemption from sin. “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Read Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV.

Gratitude and pleasant memories accompany names of family and friends dear to me. Yet there is no name more loved and gratefully recalled than the name of Jesus. What’s in a name? Everything, when it is His name. Be clear about this; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. See Acts 2:21 NKJV. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT.

I know of no greater declaration and assurance than the unchanging nature of Jesus and His power to save. Romans 5:1-2. There is a wonderful promise of redemption and renewal in Christ, “To him who overcomes I will give him a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NKJV. Awaiting you is a name that only God knows, that will perfectly describe who you have become because of His abundant grace. Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal. “That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to hold the name of Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.

Christian Communications

Brass Stamp

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