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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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Submission or Subjection?

September 27th, 2017

Joy and satisfaction are found in submission to the ways and will of God.

 “Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil.” James 4:7 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today ask,

“Submission or Subjection?”

I may be corrected by an English teacher reading this, but I am intrigued today by two similar words that sometimes seem alike, but can infer a dissimilar process. Those words are: submission and subjection. I think a distinction between them is important for proper application – practically, relationally, and spiritually. The first of those words – submission – describes your voluntary willingness to comply with another’s request or requirement of you.

You submit when, by your free will, you forego your rights to do otherwise.  Submission suggests a voluntary willingness and readiness, choosing the better option for the right reasons. Your relationship with God is based on willing submission and joyful obedience. James advised, “Therefore, submit yourselves to God.” James 4:7 NKJV. By your choice of submission, you subject yourself to obedience as unto the Lord.

The second word – subjection – includes the idea of coercion and subjugation. “Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.” Psalm 106:42 NKJV. Coercion occurs when someone attempts to impose their will on another person. Anyone who demands compliance at the threat of their disfavor or unwanted consequences is trying to force you to do their wish and will. In both submission and subjection, the end results are similar but the motivation and strategy differ vastly.

Submission is your voluntary response to what is asked of you and is beneficial and appropriate for you to do. God patiently awaits your submission. In contrast, subjection relies upon coercion, demanding by threat of disfavor or punishment to gain compliance you would not otherwise give. Our better nature responds more positively to a request or rightful expectation. Our baser nature – and we all have one – is oppositional, expressing reluctance, resistance, or outright refusal to demands contrary to our own will or perceived pleasure.

Submission is a choice that only you can make. Joy and satisfaction are found in submission to the ways and will of God alone. Conversely, subjection is imposed from outside by others. Only frustration and displeasure will be found there. Others will try to overlay their expectations, plans, and will upon your life. Trust the sacred environs of your heart and life to none but God. Our God never imposes His will on your life, nor should you allow others to impose theirs. He offers His ways and will for your good.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV. Subjection burdens you with concerns you did not choose. Submission to God frees you to elevate your life to all that is higher and better. The choice is yours!

Today, I pray for you to know joys of submission to God and His ways.

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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Steadfast Hope

October 22nd, 2016

I am resending this devotional, “A steadfast Hope,” because I have added the last paragraph, as well as a personal note from Gayle and I, and our family. I hope you will take the time to read the devotional again and note our family news at its end. Your prayer is especially appreciated in these next days.

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With Christ in your life, your past is erased, your present is blessed, and your future is certain.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “steadfast hope.”

The concept of hope is much misused and misunderstood. People use the word inaccurately, when referring to something they wish to happen but are not very sure it will. Many people live life wistfully, hoping what they wish could be true. Wishes don’t come true; faith does. Biblically, the word conveys a radical certainty which is the foundation for all you believe to be true now and in your future. Most people assume that, “seeing is believing.” Incorrectly, we require incontrovertible evidence before we venture into faith.  Contrary to every assumption, the Bible teaches that “believing is seeing.”

Paul reasoned, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25 NKJV. True hope begins, rests, and thrives in this truth, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV. Contrast that with life before your heart was at rest in Christ. “At that time you were separate from Christ . . without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:13 NIV. With Christ in your life, your past is erased, your present is blessed, and your future is certain. “[We who] take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NIV. Biblical hope rests, “firm and secure,” upon the clarity of God’s Word to you and the surety of Jesus Christ’s work in you.

Hope is akin to love and faith, not a weaker version of either. Paul affirmed the Thessalonian Christians, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV. He similarly encouraged the Christians in Corinth, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV. Biblical hope deserves more priority than is usually given.

“Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep His promise.” Hebrews 10:23 TEV. Paul prayed for the Roman church, “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.” Romans 15:13 NIV. You experience overflowing hope as you fill your thoughts and heart with God’s Word. “That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

When things aren’t working out as expected, choose hope anyway. Losing hope for your marriage or family? Place your home in God’s hands. God can mend hearts, restore love, and heal a marriage. Giving up on yourself or someone else? God can change a life. Struggling with finances? God is the Lord Who provides. As long as there is life there is hope. “Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NKJV. The Resurrection is God’s way to show that nothing is impossible.

Considering that day of Christ’s return and our glorification, Paul wrote of the Blessed Hope that awaits us, “Live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  See Titus 2:11-14 NIV. We look with even more anticipation for that glorious day.

A PERSONAL NOTE. After I had written and sent this devotional, we received a call that our grandson – just twenty-one years old two weeks earlier – had died in an automobile accident that morning. The news was devastating. Yet these words about steadfast hope were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends. Allen and Gayle Randolph

Today, I pray for you to experience hope that is undiscourageable and steadfast.

Christian Communications 2016

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