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Freed To Be Free

November 15th, 2018

Freedom is both gift and destiny.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Freed to Be Free.”

Freedom is precious. Across centuries, men have been willing to sacrifice their possessions, positions, and even risk their lives to secure and defend the love of freedom that the Creator placed in our eternal spirit.

America, my native country, was birthed by the courage and sacrifice of people willing to cross oceans for liberty and religious freedom. They released their history and risked their lives in a treacherous journey across oceans to the new world. Such freedom is beyond price. But true liberty always comes at a precious cost. They sought religious freedom. What I write about today is an even greater liberty, spiritual freedom in Christ.

The simplest and most beloved Bible verse is, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV. Familiarity with that verse must not diminish the revolutionary truth of why Jesus died for you and me, as well as all the world. For yours and my disobedience, a sinless sacrifice was required for God to forgive sin and provide lasting redemption.

Jesus alone is sinless; therefore, He alone could become the Father’s acceptable sacrifice. The Apostle Paul’s confident assertion to the Galatians Christians was “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 NIV. Rejoice that, “Christ has set us free. Galatians 5:1 NIV. No ifs, ands, or maybes. Spectacular Truth. But that is only the “what” of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. The more significant truth is “why” Jesus died on Golgotha’s hill. What Jesus did on the Cross is wonderful. Why Jesus chose to die is even more glorious!

The purpose of Calvary is clear – redemption from your past and the promise of a grand and eternal future. “For God made Jesus, Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV. In the excitement of celebrating such a consequential truth, it is easy to overlook an even more glorious truth. In Christ, spiritual freedom is both gift and destiny.

One aspect of God’s gift redeems your past, and another assures your ongoing spiritual freedom. The liberating truth is this: “It is for freedomthat Christ has set us free.” Paul reminds and warns that freedom does not allow you to live as you please. “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 NIV

In Christ, you were freed to be free. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” John 8:36 MSG. The liberty Jesus purchased on the cross is all encompassing – yesterday, today, and in every tomorrow. But the Bible promises and warns, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be entangled again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV. Selling your freedom and future for the pleasure of a moment is a fool’s deal.

Today I pray for you to be a proponent of Godliness, grace, and liberty.

Christian Communications 2018

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Loved and Loving

February 14th, 2017

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “loved and loving.”

“If this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.”      1 John 4:10 TEV

Every person has many needs. None is stronger or more essential than your need to be and feel loved. The greatest gift of one’s self is to offer love to another flawed person, not because of anything they have or have not done, but simply because you chose to love them. Love sets an elevated value on another person higher than they may have thought themselves deserving. And that’s a great feeling for both the one loving and the one loved.

Why do people struggle to believe they can be loved? On some occasion, every person has felt rejection or being unwanted. Hurting people hurt people. That is unfortunate but probably unavoidable in an unkind and hurting world. Such feelings diminish your understanding of self-worth and may wrongly persuade you that you are unlovely, or even unlovable. Those emotions are difficult to change, even when told otherwise. I heard it said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” That is nowhere more true than in this matter of love. Love is most persuasive when evidenced by grace given and behavior observed, rather than by mere words that proclaim love. Love is volitional, before it becomes emotional. In every action and overture toward you, God is unchangeably consistent with His choice to love you forever.

When teaching on love years earlier, the Lord gave an insight expressed in this understanding, To be authentic, love must be practical and observable. God’s love for you is practical, observable, and always sacrificial. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16 TEV. The love of God is practical enough to provide, protect, and preserve, and is plainly observable in the wonderful plans He has made for you, forever.  God said, “I know the plans I have for you . . to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally, without measure or requirement. Being loved embraces the obligation to love others in no lesser way. “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 TEV. You are loved; be loving. See Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV. In life, I have found that loving is well worth the risk, and the rewards are the incredible, extravagant dimensions of Christ’s own love. “Take in . . the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” Ephesians 3:18 MSG. See Romans 8:35-39 NAS. Your love is limited until you embrace His love without limits.

Today, I pray for you to receive the immeasurable love of God and share it generously.

Christian Communications 2017

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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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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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Altars of Consecration

October 21st, 2014

“Abraham built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7 NKJV.

The promises you seek are only found in the consecration God expects.

My thoughts and comments today are about “altars of consecration.”

The story of Abraham’s journey is told in “milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.” Those characteristics will describe any intentional pursuit of God. Obedience is the sincere expression of faith. By faith Abraham obeyed . . . [and] went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT. Obedience is essential and non-negotiable. (Review EDL, Part 1: www.allenrandolph.com/?p=8077). Today, I suggest the very important, second aspect of Abraham’s faith journey, “Altars of Consecration.”

Altars are significant to God and prominent in each person’s spiritual journey. Godly consecration is essential and non-negotiable to all spiritual progress. Be advised; consecration is not a casual affair; it is costly. Old Testament altars were messy, bloody places where only the first and finest of offerings were acceptable. Those sacrifices merely foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Out of painful recognition of his sin, David discovered God’s heart, “The sacrifices God [desires] are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17. The best definition of a broken and contrite heart that I have heard is: “A heart in which the evil has been crushed.” Today, an altar of consecration is where you humbly bow to the singular sovereignty of God, a sacred place of worship expressed in costly sacrifice and sincere consecration of your allegiance, affections and will.

Consecration became Abraham’s lifestyle, and it must be yours as well. Every place Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar, dug a well, and worshipped the Lord there. Again and again, it is said of him, “Abraham built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7 NKJV. See Genesis 12:8/13:18/22:9. On every altar, Abraham offered a sacrifice and made a further consecration of himself to God and His promises to multiply and bless his seed. Romans 4:17-21 NIV. No other occasion evidences the extent of Abraham’s obedience and consecration more than his altar on Mount Moriah. Read Genesis 22:1-17.

“By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents . . for he was looking forward to a city with foundations whose builder was God.” See Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV. Consecration is best expressed through obedience despite present realities, while holding fast to a relentless faith in a promised future. The promises and permanence you seek are only found in the obedience and consecration God expects. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us . . Our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV/Romans 8:18.

There are times when an altar of consecration needs to be repaired, as occurred with Israel. “And Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down . . with twelve stones, he built an altar in the name of the Lord . . then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice.” Read 1 Kings 18:30-39. If any, what repair needs to occur to the altars where you have made consecrations to God? “I urge you by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God . . that you may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2. You and your life are “the living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.”

Today, my prayer is that you renew your consecration and devote yourself to be altogether His.

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